The "Threat" of Digital Technology

September 09, 2015

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I have a brother who works for a record label in Nashville. His job has given me a front-row seat to the devastating effect that digital technology has had on the music business. Mp3s, file-sharing and music streaming have opened a Pandora’s box that may never be closed. Both labels and artists are financially hurting.

Back when he was in college, that same brother used to work in a video rental store. Remember those? With faster Internet speeds and streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and others, stores like Blockbuster Video have gone the way of the dinosaur.

Let’s talk daily newspapers. They’re still around, but it seems every six months I see another round of layoffs at the local daily. The 24-hour news cycle – created by the rise of satellite/cable TV and the birth of the Internet – has steadily decreased subscriptions. Publishers and editors are struggling to find ways to remain relevant and deliver news faster.

The effect that digital technology has had on these three businesses begs the question: what kind of effect has it had on advertising?

There was a time when everyone was saying online advertising was going to kill traditional advertising. There would be no more full-service agencies. There would only be digital specialists.

That simply hasn’t happened. Instead, online advertising has become another tool in the marketing toolbox. Television is still on the air. Out-of-home is still out and about. Direct mail is still in the mailbox. People still listen to radio. Yes, even print still gets read. But now we have a rich tapestry of new mediums such as social networking, ads in apps, banner ads, Website takeovers and online videos in which to deliver our marketing messages.

Yes, technology is changing rapidly. But what you need from an ad agency will never change. You need ideas. You need smart people that can develop a strong advertising strategy, create highly arresting work and then choose the best medium(s) in which to display them.