The future is bright in 2011 and the future is digital

John Wren, chief executive of Omnicom was quoted recently in the FT saying that the advertising group planned to introduce a technical education programme for all its 63,000 employees to teach them the ways of Google, Facebook and other online media.

According the the FT, Omnicom is to accelerate its push into digital media and marketing in 2011 by focusing on new partnerships with technology companies and large-scale training for its staff.

Some of John Wren’s other quotes from Tim Bradshaw’s article amused me slightly, such as

Advertising space on social media such as Facebook is not yet “fully priced”, he says.

“I’m not sure that Facebook can get what you’d get for being first on top of a search page,” he muses, comparing the cost of ads on the world’s biggest social network to Google’s lucrative AdWords.

“We know it’s important; I don’t know that anybody knows how to value it in the same way you would value a traditional TV audience. But if that medium isn’t fairly paid, chances are we’re doing a lot of work that we are not 100 per cent fairly paid for either – but we have to do the work nonetheless.”

It perhaps shows that Mr Wren will need to go on one of the “technical education programs” to understand the difference between advertising (one way broadcast) and social media (two way conversation) and the value of each when combined in an integrated way.

Just for the record, social media is not TV.

One hopes that an external digital strategist is tasked to put the program together rather than one of their interns who dabbles with twitter.

Not to be outdone, WPP has continued on their acquisition trail snapping up Blue State Digital, the agency behind Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.

Sir Martin is on a fresh acquisition trail, his most recent move was the backing a new international PR consultancy chaired by former Labour minister Peter Mandelson, called Global Counsel.

My take – WPP has a better shot at winning the digital race in 2011, but only if they carefully orchestrate how all of their agencies work together when it comes to digital and social.

There will be a great deal of learning that comes out of each agency, and by harnessing this across the group they can become a force to be reckoned with.

What Sir Martin has probably already worked out, but John Wren will discover in 2011 is that clients are already smarter than many agencies, and are demanding the skills and talents to keep their brand and message alive in these new channels.

Digital will be the real winner in 2011, for both consumers and brands, but only if guided by the right hands – it’s not about just working out how to make money from putting ads on Facebook anymore.

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Based in London, Andrew is an internationally renowned thought leader in the field of social business and social media networks. Andrew is a Global Partner with IBM, with a focus on Social Business.



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