Last August, AOL paid $315 million for The Huffington Post, basically a blog site. In February 2011, Sydney Harman paid just $1 (and assumed millions in financial obligations) for Newsweek, an award-winning magazine that has been published for over 77 years. These two transactions were another reminder that the media scene is changing rapidly.

Television, surprisingly, still dominates ad spend worldwide. However, the days of the whole family sitting around watching the national or major networks has gone. Cable TV is fragmenting the audience and online TV is gaining ground. The tablet (iPad and others) will soon be demanding its share of the ad budget while the smartphone seems to have finally freed the mobile from its limitations. Technology is linking this to the outdoor media and the oldest advertising medium is quickly arming itself with digital screens and interactivity.

As the advertising agencies and the marketing directors struggle to keep up with changing and more complex media landscape, they are faced with another problem. The consumers are also changing their habits and attitudes. Researchers have been aware of this some years. People don’t just sit down to docilely receive an ad message but now demand engagement. Advertisers used to buy attention with dominant ad spaces or prime time TV commercials. Now they have to involve people if they are to gain attention.

The Internet and social media usually ensures the potential customer is well informed about any product and the competitors so the advertiser has to be transparent and honest.

The advertising industry may face an even greater challenge. Attention spans are growing shorter. To communicate with our customers we need to be even more creative in the ways we attract and hold attention.

Of course, I accept that by now most readers have deserted me after so many lines of text and are probably off tweeting someone!