Although I was born and raised in the USA, I have been living and working in Sweden of most of the last twenty years. During that time I have seen many changes occur in the world of entertainment and media. I remember when I first got to Sweden there where only two TV channels that usually didn’t show programs more than a few a day. One Friday night, during prime time, I watched a documentary on the mating behaviours of horses. It wasn’t bad but not what you would expect to watch with your friends while drinking beer on a Friday night.
When commercial television was finally allowed in Sweden nobody in the advertising industry knew what to do with it. Swedish advertising and media agencies where all about print! This opened a niche for small specialized consulting companies who could advise customers and their agencies on how to use TV. A buddy of mine was very successful in this business and his main qualifications where that he was very smart and he grew up watching commercial TV in the states. With time the advertising community became savvy to TV but it was amazing how long it took for many agencies to seriously include TV as a real part of the media mix.
Some years later commercial radio started up in Sweden and the same process was repeated. Traditional ad and media agencies had no expertise in radio. Specialized “radio” consultancies thrived for years until the advertising environment had adapted to this new media. (I still think radio is highly misunderstood, poorly used and undervalued in Sweden.)
As the internet entered our lives we have seen the same type of conservative approach from the advertising environment. Most agencies still don’t understand the real value of the internet and have little or no in-house competence. If they do have internet competence they typically treat it as a special channel and it is an exception to see campaigns in which the internet is fully integrated.
Now the mobile telephone is lurking on the horizon as the next great new media environment. The question is how long it will take advertising agencies to embrace the opportunities created by the mobile telephone. The mobile phone makes it possible to present the right message, adapted to the customer’s situation (place, time, interests, etc) combined with the perfect payment solution. The mobile phone interacts easily with all other media and can turn static two dimensional media like print and billboards into interactive media. Imagine getting customers to run all over town taking photos of billboards in various locations in order to win a backstage pass or a trip to the Bahamas.
The end result will be more cost effective campaigns that target the right customers with the right info at the right time and place which will both increase customer’s satisfaction with the advertiser (and advertising in general) and increase sales.