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By Jos Scharrer, MD Scharrer Advertising

At dinner the other night, somebody said to me, “The advertising industry is on its way out. The internet and social media is making it redundant”.

Funny how often you read or hear predictions about the demise of some technology or industry. Example: it must have been twenty years ago that I first heard that the internet would destroy the advertising industry. The same soothsayers also predicted that film would kick the bucket in favour of video. Those big Arriflex cameras were going to land up in museums by 1990. Remember how Polaroid was going to kill off Kodak, and how books would become obsolete for all sorts of reasons.

So why do some people believe that the advertising agency business is going to bite the dust, just because millions are watching YouTube, chatting up on Twitter, writing blogs, reading their newspaper headlines on the internet, their books on Kindle, while the new generation spends very little time in front of the television set, tied up as they are with all this social media.

The doom and gloom pundits overlook the most critical factor of all. Advertising is not about DTP operators churning online banners on product prices, listing features with bullet points and maybe adding a stock image to make it “creative”. Advertising is all about The Big Idea and building brand relationships. Now that is a world that is completely different. Advertising is about developing the content of an advertisement to engage with the consumer. That means uniquely meeting a consumer need on emotive levels. Being able to surprise, entertain, and even provoke attention, recall and action. This talent, skill, psychology, creativity and intellectual property is what the ad industry brings to marketers and is what drives the industry forward.

On the other hand, take a look at the internet and those online banner ads. Have you noticed, that very few actually have an idea, or that touch of creativity that engages you, makes you smile and touches your emotions. Instead what do you see? SPIN TO WIN. CHECK OUT THESE GREAT DEALS.

CLICK FOR THE LOWEST PRICES. This is because the main role of the internet in advertising today is generally supplying information, or a link to somewhere else, sales and response and measuring those impressions. Even when you do see some Big Ideas going viral on YouTube, you can bet that most of them were born in an ad agency.

All that has been going on these last twenty years is that media is changing. The ad business now has a lot more choices. The internet is not replacing the ad agency, it is supplying another tool in the agency tool box.

The global spend on advertising for 2010; according to a recent report by ZenithOptimedia, is heading for USD447 734 million, with an internet advertising share estimated at 17%. Global advertising expenditure is expected to reach USD487 360 by 2012. Admittedly it is not yet back at the 2008 figures, but then every industry was hit by the recession. The graphs on advertising expenditure going forward, are all on the up and up.

Will the internet make advertising agencies redundant? Hardly! As the creators of the Big Ideas that build the Big Brands, they will just keep on getting bigger.