Alex Wright

Digital Thought Leaders

Agency.com

Alex is a fan of Brands 2.0, eagerly talking about how people value brands and brands value people. Chatting with him at the regional internet congress in Zagreb, his passions about where brands are vs where they should be come through.

“Brands need to have a raison d’etre, a purpose online”. For Alex the model of interruptive advertising and simply copying it from one media channel (television) and pasting it to the web (simple banner messaging) doesn’t stack up. I get the sense he wouldn’t disagree that online advertising like this would still work as effectively as the model does in other media, but it’s a missed opportunity to restrict the use of the web like this.

“Branding is heading for crisis. The model of branding was built on the industrial scale of information provision when a small number of media channels achieved constant mass reach.” Over the last 20 years, audience fragmentation in the media markets of Europe and North America has torn apart the economics of mass marketing and this has a profound effect on the effectiveness of classic media today as well as the potential of the web.

“It’s the end of information monopolies” explains Alex. With or without the explosion of digital media, the advertising industry was heading for crisis. With digital media it simply accelerated that process.

“You can see the difference by looking at the extremes of where society has come from and where we are today. Back on October 30th 1938 the radio adaptation of War of the Worlds – the story of Martian invaders - rocked American. The broadcast of Orson Wells felt so real that radio switchboards and police station phone lines were jammed. This was a time when society amassed around single media. The hoax broadcast is the most startling example of that effect: when media is within a monopoly there are no alternatives.”

Today we have almost total transparency: the truth – or myriad perspectives of it – is only a click away. “Companies can’t hide anymore, they need to be transparent and completely honest. Google up ‘Dell’ and after the first two official site links you’ll find a hundred sites of people complaining about customer service. Take the case of the soft drink Ribena: two teenage girls in Australia with a simple kids chemistry set discovered there was no vitamin C. Once that news got out onto the web there was no going back for the brand.”

Brands suddenly have a great deal at risk. And when the nature of marketing is fundamentally changing, many are failing to read the landscape and apply this type of thinking. I'm looking forward to watching Alex apply this to more brands.

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