From the archives: More than just a disruption

(This article, originally published online in 2009, is excerpted from Ray’s recent book Digital Disruption & Transformation: Lessons from History)

People have been chronicling the disruptive influence of the digital media on traditional media and advertising ever since the World Wide Web first appeared. But no one has articulated the effect so comprehensively or so bluntly as Bob Garfield, ad critic and columnist for Ad Age.

After publishing a piece on the future of media entitled “The Chaos Scenario” four years ago, the curmudgeonly critic became a poster-boy for the doomsayers. Here was someone who’d worked closely with the advertising industry for 25 years (albeit as an observer, not a participant), someone whose livelihood depends on the success of traditional media, and he was using his column in the advertising industry’s bible to declare that advertising was in its death throes.

He has now turned that column into a book – one that balances the bad news with a prescription for surviving the chaos, including examples from around the globe of companies that have successfully embraced digital marketing.

As to Bob’s bluntness, in a video presentation connected to the book, he says the book has two parts, and the message of the first part is “You are doomed.”

“I say doomed,” Bob drolly tells the camera, “because ‘totally and completely f***ed’ didn’t fit on the slide.’” Here is a man who tells it like it is, and he told it like it is in our recent podcast.

Supply, demand and cobblers

“The Chaos Scenario” had its genesis in a presentation Bob made to colleagues at an Ad Age editorial conference. Fuelled, he says, by a night of heavy drinking at the conference, he had an epiphany while preparing his presentation.

After years of observing the rise of the digital media and the reaction to it by traditional media and advertising, he realised that “If these trends continue, it’s not just a disruption, but the doom of the industry.

“It was an end of times story. It wasn’t just the industry – it’s also my own job.  I thought, ‘I’m going to lose my job – and probably earlier rather than later’….This is like the Industrial Revolution, and I’m a cobbler.”

A big part of the problem, Garfield says, was the way traditional media dealt with the web when it first appeared. “In the early days, we simply moved our business model onto the web. We didn’t think about the fact that the advertising dollars don’t make an equal transfer.”

“We ignored the law of supply and demand – if there is an endless reservoir of content (and therefore advertising inventory), it will depress the price of advertising.”

Meanwhile, while media outlets increased their audience, they didn’t generate any income from it. And now, Bob says, there is a growing group of consumers who “believe that ‘content wants to be free’. Ridiculous! Toasters, paper towels, etc. don’t want to be free – why should content want to be free?”

Regarding the plans of publishers including News Limited and Fairfax to start charging for their content, Bob says that “In some pockets, people will make paid content work. Whether they can put the toothpaste back in the tube is questionable.”

He cites the American HBO model, where the pay television network has specialised in high quality content that people will pay for. That contrasts with the broadcast TV model, which has been “to throw mud at the wall and see what sticks – 90% crap and 10% quality.”

Ironically, he says, the pay television model is being undermined by people streaming free video using the same cable that brings cable TV into their house. “People are now using broadband to find programs they used to pay their cable bill for, so the cable companies have been hung by their own co-axial noose.”

From shouting to collaborating

But it’s not all bad news, according to Bob. Out of the chaos is coming a re-birth of marketing.

“Mass is gone, micro is the new reality. Micro offers extraordinary opportunities.”

Bob says businesses need to stop thinking of customers as passive recipients of information and start treating them as “stakeholders, fellow travellers. You need to deal with people as individuals.

“Drop the megaphone – the conversation is no longer about you – and get used to aggregating a community.”

“You’ll be able to get intelligent loyalty and even evangelism from the crowd. You’re not just forging an ongoing relationship, you’re getting collaborators.”

Brands, he says, offer a conundrum in the digital environment. “On the one hand, brands will be increasingly insignificant. They’re a proxy for information  – they signal that they will be there tomorrow, and the product will be approximately as good. In the digital world, we have an infinite amount of information at our fingtertips and we don’t need a proxy, we have the info.

“But the other way of looking at this, there’s so much information out there, that a brand becomes an aggregation tool – suddenly brands have a different function – they save you the trouble of sifting through everything.”

Bob points out that there is an enormous amount of data on customers now available via the Internet – much of it surrendered voluntarily by people. Unfortunately, the skill sets needed by advertisers and marketers in this data-intensive environment are different from those currently running the industry.

“I don’t care how creative you are, in your t-shirt and sneakers. If you’re 30, you better work out what you’re going to do at 35.”

Spotlight on Katelyn

Wanna know more about MQ’s Marketing and Media degree and where ex-students are now? Well, we are so happy to bring to you the next inspiring alumni in our “Spotlight On” series.

Katelyn* is an MQ graduate, having completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing and Media in 2017. During her time at MQ, she acquired some experience in Marketing and Communications and later, after her graduation, started her journey in Law.

When we asked Katelyn why she chose Marketing and Media in the first place, the 2017 MQ graduate told us;

“I chose to study at Macquarie as they were the only university at the time that recognised the inherent relationship between Marketing and Media. I enjoyed the fact that in my later years of study, I would have exposure to subjects which really combined content from both disciplines as opposed to studying these in two separate streams.

The highlight of my degree was being able to work with genuine organisations, such as Pepsi Australia, to showcase my theoretical knowledge in a practical way. It was great exposure and an incredible opportunity for industry feedback.

I would absolutely pick this degree again. ” 

Throughout her time at Macquarie, Katelyn gained some Marketing experience and practised the knowledge she learned in the Marketing and Media. We asked what advice she has for students looking to obtain some internship experience.

“If I could give one piece of advice, it would be to engage in as much work experience as possible! This is for two reasons.

Experience provides you with a fantastic platform to enhance your practical skills and really understand how the industry operates. It will also set you apart from other graduates when you are applying for jobs, future employers like to see that you have a genuine interest in the field and are willing to work for an opportunity.

The experience was invaluable.” 

Katelyn has gained some great professional experience and when asked what was the most valuable, she said that they all had great quality and impacted her career in their own ways.

“Each exposed [me] to an entirely different type of business. My first internship was with a start up yoga and culture magazine, I learn’t the value of working from the ground up and the importance of growing awareness. The NSW Business Chamber provided me with a new experience, in that it was based in a corporate environment.”

With her substantial professional experience, starting with internships up till her current role at the Woolworths Group, Katelyn has provided some advice for recent graduates of MQ’s Marketing and Media degree.

“Throw yourself into volunteer internships and experience, practice your interview skills using mock questions and be confident in your approach. Finally, be interested. It is very easy for an employer to gauge that you do not have a genuine drive to be part of the industry.”

Following her experience with the Bachelor of Marketing and Media, Katelyn is currently continuing more studies and is acquiring a Bachelor of Laws degree, majoring in Corporate and Commercial Law at Macquarie University.

We wish her all the best in her future endeavours and we hope you’ve all learned from Katelyn’s experiences and see what it’s like to be a graduate from MQ’s Marketing and Media degree.

*Last name of this interviewee has been removed at the request of the interviewee. 

Marketing Language We All Need to Use

With the internet’s massive impact on marketing campaigns, it is crucial for marketers to ensure they get there point across in the most effective, exciting and successful way possible.

But, making marketing campaigns appealing to the public has become more and more difficult, as individuals give just a couple seconds to campaigns. Even an email campaign is considered to have done well if only 25% of respondents click on it.

So, what should we as marketers do to improve our language and gain more interest?

Here are some tips we’ve learned;

Emotional Communication

If the message and content of the campaign don’t have language that resonates with the consumers, then they won’t be as interested. Emotional language for marketers can be split into five categories, these include; trust, pride, anticipation, fear and joy. Make sure to write it down!

Call to Action Language

By including ‘action’ language into your campaign, consumers will feel more compelled and interested to check out your organisation. Using words that are descriptive, positioning yet still emotional are very important for this step.

Symbolism – The Power of the Emoji

Symbols make a difference! Visuals are more modern age and they illustrate your organisation’s dynamic adaptability, as your able to adapt to the unique environments around you.

Did you find these interesting? Have you used any of these tips and tricks before? Be sure to let us know any other tips we’ve missed out on.

Head Image: Unknown

Apologies, Content Pressure and Training: Digital Marketing in the News This Week

More new developments of interest:

Facebook and the price of tech utopia: Greatest piece of hyperbole about the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica story that I’ve read: “What has since transpired from those early moments of millennial innocence is as tragic as it was inevitable. The cost of utopia, we are now seeing, may be too high…”

The hunger for content is feeding Australia’s creatives well: The double-edged sword of digital content – the demand is increasing, but clients want more for less money, putting stress on content producers.

How Australia’s PR and comms industry can overcome the talent drought: Companies need to take chances on new hires, and universities need to push internships harder. Point taken!

Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook apology is the linguistic equivalent of ‘shit happens’: An interesting take on the use of language and emotion in getting your message across – not strictly digital marketing, but very applicable.

Content Marketing 03/04/18

I come across heaps of interesting and relevant material on digital marketing and media convergence. Here are just a few from the past week:

The WIRED Guide to Memes: If you ever wondered what Chuck Norris, Rick Astley, Pepe the Frog and Dramatic Chipmunk had in common, here’s your answer!

10 Awesome Aussie Content Marketing Examples: Look past the cheesy headline and read about how several Australian companies are successfully using content marketing.

Once Upon a Digital Time: How to be an Amazing Storyteller When Everyone is a ‘Storyteller’: An illustrated ebook from LinkedIn about how to survive in today’s ‘short attention span theater’.

The 50 Blogs Every B2B Marketer Should Follow: It is exactly what it says it is! If you’re serious about working in this industry, you should start reading some of these blogs. The list includes several experts whose podcasts I listen to regularly, including the Content Marketing Institute, Jay Baer and Mark Schaeffer.

Top Takeaways from Intelligent Content Conference: Presented by the Content Marketing Institute, this deals with content in the context of artificial intelligence, including chatbots. Good preparation for discussions about technology and the future of digital marketing.

What Marketers Have Learned From Facebook’s Data Leak

Amidst all the drama surrounding Facebook’s leak of 50 million users’ data to Cambridge Analytica, we have learned something very important that all marketers should be aware of.

“It should raise their awareness of obligations to enforce their policies by monitoring what clients actually do with data they provide,”

David Raab, Principal of Marketing Technology House, said.

But, Facebook was not the first to allow a data leak to happen. This has happened to a few companies and it raises that question as to why brands use data to hyper-target their consumers?

Screen Shot 2018-03-25 at 6.45.58 PM
Photo by Dado Ruvic/Reuters

Yes, it is easier, but it also discriminates users by their genders and cultures, and we as marketers and consumers need to start utilising the data we get and add value to it – as problems like this are just fraudulent behaviour and customers are going to regress and not use our platforms.

Facebook has already seen the massive consequences of their actions as their value has dropped by US 30 billion dollars and about 6% in the Stock Market.

Head Image: Photo by AP

Why are marketers obsessed with trends?

Marketers are highly strategic thinkers, right? Then why do they usually just follow the crowds?

That’s right! According to Mark Ritson, Professor at Melbourne Business School marketers are like magpies, we fly from one trend to another, basically following what is conventional.

And yes, there is a reason why marketers do this – its because marketers find that doing something unique and failing will impact their notability.

Economist, John Maynard Keynes has said that;

“Worldy wisom teaches that it is better for reputation to fail conventionally than to succeed unconventionally”.

But, isn’t this an issue? Won’t this cause unbalanced customer relationships and behaviours? We think so!

If we, as marketers, merely focus on career progression and stability, rather then brand awareness and customer satisfaction, we lose respect for ourselves.

We suggest that you IGNORE the crowds! Don’t always look at what others around you are doing – analyse your brand and see what can work for you.

But that’s just one marketer’s opinion.

Head image: Photo by Magic Pictures

MECO399 Member Spotlight: Sophie Tilley

Are you interested in what it’s like to be a Marketing and Media professional? Wanna know what it’s like to be in the industry first hand? Well, we’ve got your back! We have scoped the brightest young minds who have studied MECO399 to give you an inside look at the industry and how Advanced Issues in Marketing and Media helped them in their working life.

Our very first Marketing and Media alum is Sophie Tilley.


Pictured above: Sophie Tilley


Sophie graduated from Macquarie University in 2015 and has since completed her Master’s degree in Marketing Communications, and has gained some enriching professional experiences in companies such as; Madman Entertainment, NRMA, Deloitte and Cinema Nova.


When we asked her why she chose Marketing and Media as her degree, Sophie told us a career in film was something that started off her dreams in media.

“With this degree, I would be able to gain a solid knowledge of Marketing and other skills needed for a career in business, but could also take classes in film making in state of the art facilities and explore my passion through classes.

Throughout my degree, my intrigue in Marketing grew to become a strong interest of mine – I loved seeing how my passion for creativity and interest in business could come together in such a fluid way.”  

Within her degree, Sophie also created many memories, having gone on exchange for a semester at Oxford Brookes University. But, she told us how much she genuinely enjoyed taking one of kind media subjects.


“The highlight of my degree was definitely the subjects in which my fellow classmates and I would work together to create a complete marketing campaign for a real-life client and present our work to the whole class.

I can’t imagine having studied any other degree – it was as if it was created just for me and my interests (except maybe for accounting and statistics classes…..)” 

With her knowledge from Macquarie University, Sophie undertook several internships during her studies and she’s told us exactly how she was able to land these cool work experiences and how you can also take on internships during your time at MQ.

“All of these I was able to get by simply asking professionals that I met – a number of these through university… I was able to gain an internship at the media agency OMD as we presented our mock campaign to them during a class. Following the presentation, I approached the OMD representative and asked if they would be able to accommodate me for a couple of weeks. Another time I participated in the Lucy Mentoring Program that Macquarie organises for women interested in working in business…

All of my internships have started with me simply asking politely if they would be possible – so don’t be afraid to ask if you know someone in an industry you’re interested in working in!”  

With all this mind, it isn’t hard to see how Sophie has already started to take over the world with her Marketing and Media knowledge acquired from MQ. With her final words of wisdom, Sophie has given us advice for recent and future graduates who wish to break into the marketing and media industries.

  1.  “Have the confidence to ask the big questions – especially if it means that you can get a foot in the door at a company you’d love to work with.
  2. Remember that you can combine your passions. Marketing is great because all companies need to marketing themselves in one way – I have always had a passion for film, so when I approached film companies for internships and jobs, my passion set me apart from other candidates(…).
  3. Gain a knowledge of digital platforms like Facebook Ads and Google AdWords & Analytics – These platforms are always touched on in class, however you will need to go the extra mile and read and watch online tutorials to learn how to use these platforms. Digital is the future, so having an understanding of them will set you apart from other graduates.”
Head image: Photo by@hannahhargravee via Instagram

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