Where is digital advertising’s Piyush?

Where is digital advertising’s Piyush?
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First Published: Fri, Apr 30 2010. 09 04 PM IST

Updated: Fri, Apr 30 2010. 09 04 PM IST
Or Prasoon?
That—a reference to the redoubtable and moustachioed creative engine Piyush Pandey of Ogilvy and Mather (O&M) and his counterpart Prasoon Joshi at McCann Erickson—was one of the refrains of a digital marketing conference on Thursday where I moderated two sessions (yes, the organizers really were desperate).
There were two other “Where is...”? questions raised in the course of the discussion that I will paraphrase to ensure the point isn’t lost.
One, where is digital advertising’s “Volkswagen-Lemon” campaign?
And two, where is digital advertising’s Mint, a clear leader in its space that makes the choice easy for both readers and advertisers (okay, May’s quota of shameless plugs exhausted too; and I use the term leader loosely, more from the qualitative point of view than the quantitative).
To be sure, there are other problems facing digital advertising.
As one of the speakers said, the Internet medium is complex enough, to put off what he termed as the “grey hairs” and the “no hairs”, and, unfortunately, these were the people who controlled budgets.
Illustration: Jayachandran/Mint
And there are dynamics (mostly driven by commercial considerations) within advertising conglomerates and media firms that make it easier for these firms to focus on print or TV, than the Internet. It is this behaviour of media firms that probably explains why there is no clear leader in the Internet media space.
Yet, all three questions, posed at the beginning of this piece, are worth re-posing.
The answer to the third, the reason for the absence of an obvious choice is, er, obvious—the way media firms view the Internet.
The answers to the first two aren’t as obvious.
After all, if the Internet can allow people to do just about anything with the way their advertising messages are presented to readers/viewers, then why is it that even this columnist, an avid Internet browser, cannot remember too many significant online ad campaigns?
And, if it is true that all cool people in the world are in new media—at least, that’s what the editor of Mint’s website would have me believe—then why is it that we haven’t seen even one of them make it big?
I don’t have the answers to either question, but I do know that once we do find the answers, things will never be the same online, irrespective of whether there are 71 million or 51 million Internet users (both numbers came up on Thursday), and irrespective of whether 3% or 7% of all advertising by value goes to the Internet.
That could well be the tipping point.
Write to acuteangle@livemint.com
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First Published: Fri, Apr 30 2010. 09 04 PM IST