The digital advertising conundrum

I contemplated a lot over the last 2 days - wheter to write this post or not. Finally, giving in - even if this post reduces my employability to a great extent.

Last week, I attended an interview at one of the leading digital agencies in the country. Over the telephone.

Once the pleasantries were done with, I was asked what sites I visit regularly. You know, to keep updated about the 'trends'.

I thought the interviewer was talking about information in general, and replied with 'reddit, major news sites and others'.

It all went downhill from there.

Basically, the guy wanted to see how much I am 'in touch' with the 'technology'. This 'being in touch' entailed a lot of recalling 'great' online campaigns. I couldn't come up with many, and especially none which came from India.

Before the call ended, I received an honest opinion from the man. He said that I need to know what has been done in order to be 'innovative'.

He mentioned a few projects of his organization, the most important of them was getting a hashtag trending on twitter.

What's the big deal? People don't even read what is written on their timelines. If a fairly popular tweeter keeps retweeting every reply containing the hashtag, it will trend in no time.

This is what I think is wrong with digital. We put too much emphasis on 'innovation' and little on sales or customer needs. The race to have the next shiny thing in the digital media will be closely followed and documented by everyone in the ad industry and its fringes; sadly, the customer, who is supposed to be the centre of attention, is missing.

I beg to differ. I prefer to remember the campaigns that impress me, and nothing else. And I don't want to go to websites no one other than ad folk go to keep myself updated. I did that 2 years ago, when I was new to the field.

What I look for nowadays, sir, are the latest advances in technology, or things that catch fancy of people online. For that, I visit New scientist and the likes, not banner blog.

And for collective knowledge about advertising, I have Mr. Dave Trott, Bob Hoffman, Vinny Warren, George Tanenbaum and many others who have been teaching me how to think and write over the years. I don't have to go to facebook to see what is trending.

I want to make a difference. I want digital advertising to mean something. I want people to get off their seats and buy the product when they see my ad. I want my idea to make a difference to them, no matter how small.

Sometimes I feel I made a mistake getting into this fractured industry. Then I read Mr. Hoffman's latest blog entry, which (rather uncharacteristically) said  "Someone is going to figure out how to use the web wonderfully. It might as well be you."

I'm hoping to see it happen during my lifetime.

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