Doubts about digital? | DMA

Filter By

Show All

Connect to


Doubts about digital?


The week in advertising and marketing, which has a focus on digital, and explores the digital backlash and common digital dilemmas, including the arrest of the person alleged to be one of the world's biggest pirates

Digital is everywhere and more than half of ad spend is digital - the UK was the first country to cross this particular Rubicon last year. But is focus on digital too strong? What about those other media? Mediatel columnist Dominic Mills points out that digital is taken for granted, but other media have to justify their place. Is this right?

According to the Financial Times, the true rates of digital engagement for display ads are difficult to measure and ad fraud poses a huge problem to the industry. Ad fraud happens something like this - viruses or other dodgy software finds its way only a computer. That computer is now a 'bot', which visits a particular site, owned by the fraudster, friend of the fraudster or something. The site collects money for the visits from advertisers. Nobody saw the ad, but the site registers the 'view' by the bot. This happens on a grand scale. The article concludes that, "Advertisers need to stop putting money blindly in to digital."

The Ad Contrarian agrees, but for a rather different reason, saying that response rates are so phenomenally low that display targeting is essentially non-existent. Talking of fraud, the alleged owner and founder of one of the world's leading piracy sites was arrested this week, tripped by his activity on Facebook and iTunes.

Digital encroachment into the real world has consequences. This is often known as 'disruption'. Copywriter Paul Kitcatt and co-founder of Kitcatt Nohr says the rise in automated copywriting is concerning for many reasons - one of which is that they are not at all bad. Could it be that computers can now manage such complicated tasks, or maybe the computer doesn't need a client or superior to approve work, so its copy gets through the net. "Just when you get wind of a new trend in technology, you find it’s already happened, and it’s changed your life forever," he says.

How bad could digital become? Try this horrific vision of the future, filmed in Medellin:

In the current push-and-pull between digital and the real world, newspaper circulation and revenues continue to slide and consumers shift to digital. The digital revenues don't yet plug the gaps that publishers need to stay competitive. Yet anomalies keep turning up. For example the newspaper for the remainers following the Brexit vote, New European, now outsells New Day which published for nine weeks before Trinity Mirror pulled the plug. And it turns a profit so may continue to be published. If you are still perplexed about Brexit, try John Lanchester's Brexit Blues in the London Review of Books.

Part of the Brexit fallout means we have a new minister. Matt Hancock is the new Minister of State for Digital and Culture. He's young and many believe he could be a future leader. Prior to politics he also worked at his family business, which happens to be a DMA member. Read the Financial Times' profile from a couple of years back. Also worth reading is this speech made in June - prior to the referendum - on the subject of digital disruption.

Hancock replaces the popular Ed Vaizey, who was the subject of this letter of thanks from an assortment of the glitterati. Difficult to remember the last time a junior minister has received such public adulation.

There are more significant moves this week. Former MP Baroness King has moved to YouTube to be their director of diversity, while the IAB is on the lookout for a new leader. A digital pioneer died this week, but perhaps on you might not expect. Alan Vega, singer in the band Suicide died. The band pioneered the use of synthesisers and famously provoked a riot in Brussels in the late 1970s.

All that extroversion is no loger in vogue. According to Andy Jex,Saatchi & Saatchi London's ECD, you should nurture your introverts.

Meanwhile, something odd happened in Barcelona this week. A motorcycle passenger spotted a wheelchair moving extremely quickly, weaving in and out of rush hour traffic. There has been no explanation, but anpolice spokesman said, "Sometimes these weird videos go viral and then it turns out that they’re part of an advertising campaign. You never know.”

Finally, if doom and gloom is your thing, look away now.

Digital can bring people together. Ask Jonathan O’Brien. He writes for a living and his new bride fell in love with his words before she fell in love with him. He wrote the must-follow TCR Waterstones Twitter account, and she fell in love with those Tweets. Then he fell in love with her. For everyone, not just romantics.

Hear more from the DMA

Please login to comment.