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The State We’re In? Digital Miosis

The Influencers 448 Add to collection

INFLUENCER: In a culture of distrust, clarity is key, writes Havas Group Media's Greg James

The State We’re In? Digital Miosis

I’m a huge fan of my Google Pixel and it was kind of a big deal when I left iPhone after 10 years to switch last year. Clearly ‘big deals’ are relative but it’s honestly a frequent talking point when people spot that my phone on the table in a meeting isn’t an Apple. 

When I made the change I figured I’d struggle to move to a new operating system, a new language, but two days later I was fumbling around my other half’s iPhone in the car trying to remember where Spotify was – my brain had adapted within 48 hours and I now looked like my dad trying to get his head around WhatsApp. 

How we use our phones or devices is human. It’s not about the technology inside, it’s about what we do with it. Manufacturers don’t expect me to learn how the phone works inside - they expect me to reap the UX benefits and get value from the features and outputs – and we could all learn a lesson here.

The business of media planning and buying is suffering from ‘digital miosis’, a near sighted blindness where we’re only able to focus on ‘platforms’, ‘data’, ‘ad tech’ and ‘analysts’. 

Clients don’t speak our language so they’re fumbling with this operating system. All this technology is critical for success in our industry today, but it’s just how we do the job, not why we do it, nor is it what our industry is fundamentally about. 

As agencies suffer the apparent threat of extinction from consultancies and frenemies, we’d do well to reclaim what’s ours: the deep and human language of consumers – real people; the nuanced alliance of man and machine combined in solving problems; the uniquely creative way only imperfect human brains can land on new ideas and ways to communicate. 

We’re in the communication business and I’m frequently confused – as are clients (hence longer pitch questions and processes!).

In a culture of distrust, clarity is key, yet share of voice in the trade press and our Twitter feeds, let alone in briefs, pitches and meetings, is dominated by ‘how’, not ‘why’. The digital miosis is spreading and we need a cure.

We’ve got to get out of the weeds, inject some real-talk and translate the tech talk track back into valuable discussion about real people and remember that it’s media that matters. 

We’re in the media business - so let’s talk about media. 

It’s really not just me and my Luddite non-iPhone ways – clients are finding agency technology platforms 'less than simple to understand'. Some of the biggest communication groups in the world… are struggling to communicate. 

For 2019, I’m powering my Pixel to Google Translate to cut the crap. Let’s get more specific about what a ‘data strategist’ is. Let’s explain the process, not just show a shiny ‘platform’. Let’s give clients some TLC, not just a DMP. Who knows, we might just restore trust, get back to normality and understand each other. 



Greg James is global chief strategy officer at Havas Group Media

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Havas US, Thu, 13 Dec 2018 16:21:26 GMT