I have just spent two days at the ad:tech show 2011 held in Suntec International Exhibition and Convention Centre in Singapore. Two days where ideas are explored and debated on various aspects of digital media ranging from mobile advertising to different models for developing or measuring advertising.
New ideas are coming fast and furious as the advertising executives and brand managers try to make sense of the ever changing landscape.
Outside in the streets of Singapore, the public are busy tweeting, checking their Facebook page and down loading a YouTube video to share with friends.
They are unaware that they are living through a revolution. One of the few compensations for getting old, is one can look back with personal experience. I was in my teens and twenties when rock n’roll exploded on the scene causing the older generation to swallow their false teeth in disgust and to call for a ban on Bill Haley and the Comets and later a young Elvis from appearing on television. The first mini car was created using a transverse engine to save space. The contraceptive pill put control into the hands of women and freed young women from the fear of pregnancy. The hippies preach love and not war and we marched to ban the atom bomb.
We didn’t know that we were part of a revolution in society.
Kids are now reaching teens unaware that we could only talk on land lines when they were at kindergarten. The genuine mobile phone had not arrived.
It was only in 1993 that, in the USA email, emails connected to the Internet offering a consumer service. For most of us, the now ubiquitous email was not common until years later.
Today PDAs are so integrated into our work and social life that we freak when we find ourselves in a part of the world without broadband or wireless. Social networks have changed the way we relate to friends and we suddenly have new “friends” based halfway across the world.
We watch movies when we want to and increasingly where we want to thanks to smartphones and the new tablets.
We shop differently and according to the marketing gurus, we control brands, not the manufacturer.
As we have witnessed recently, digital technology is changing closed societies as witnessed in the Middle East and even the solidly popular Singapore Government trembled a little as the tweeters reminded them during the recent election that not all was rosy in the garden city.
Make no mistake, we are in a revolutionary period that is changing society. In the advertising business, we are having to scramble to keep up. We are putting most of our budgets into traditional media because we and clients feel safer.
And because most of the people attending ad:tech are intimately involved with mobile, online research or social media technology or services, they are frustrated.
As the revolution continues to develop at an express rate, some past leaders will falter and even fall and some promising start-ups will die before they even get to market because technology and a change in consumer habits has run past them. There are always casualties in revolutions.
It is exciting and a heady business for all of us marching under the new banner.
The other satisfying bit about getting old is that we are expected to be grumpy and pessimistic. We no longer have rocking chairs from which to pontificate on the downhill path of the world but we do have blogs where we can bore more than our immediate family. I hope my laptop fires up (so damn slow) before I forget what I was going to say. Long live the revolution!