Back to the Future

Oct 2010 feels like Aug 2000 to me… different times, different places but a sensation of “de déjà vu”.

August 2000, was when back in Paris, my two business partners and I started, independent digital consultancy agency. Back then web marketing only just beginning. There were only 11 million web users* in France and the online spend was less than 2% of the advertising expenditure*.

Today I am in Sydney and just joined Mediabrands to structure, head up and champion social media for all the agencies of the group and their clients. In Australia, the web has gone a long way over the last 10 years: fully recovered from its initial crash, grown strongly and steadily to the $2 billion** mark, taking over cinema and radio and proving to be one of the most efficient and measurable advertising channel … Mobile and cloud computing are now on the horizon shaping up the future….


So looking at those 2 situations, you could think they are very different; that I am in much more comfortable situation selling social media now that a large majority of Australians are using the Internet… well, think again. Being head of social, feels very much like being a pioneer back in the early digital days. People look at you like you are the messiah. You are not introduced as a director, a business developer or a GM… No, you are a guru, a wiz, a star, a legend…. Clients listen to you like you are going to bring the solution to all the questions their managers have been asking them about stuff they think they know but secretly don’t want to admit that don’t really grasp. Interestingly, they also doubt everything you say and are extremely cautious when it comes to signing off the part of their marketing budget to social media. You have to educate, present, justify, explain, detail, slice and dice everything you envisage for the brand…

They know they can’t do without but don’t really what to do with… They absolutely want to get in that space without having clear objectives or KPIs.
Remember when every client wanted a .com…. feels familiar when they all cry out for a Facebook page, or a twitter account, doesn’t it?

Remember when ad servers were only tracking CTR, and then post view got introduced and de duplication, and now… feels familiar when you were talking about blogging, and now recommending social applications, building communities, geo localized content….

Objectives are confused, measurement is tricky, technology is evolving fast and as a specialist, rather than a guru, you lead your clients and colleagues onto this rocky road ahead…

Paris 2000, Sydney 2010: Same same but different! Loving every single bit of it!

Marie Sornin

*Benchmark group
** IAB


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