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A golden age for digital?

A golden age for digital?
Claire Wood, IPA Scottish Chair and Planning Director, Leith Agency reflects on the digital opportunities signalled in the latest Bellwether Report and her time as Chairman of the IPA in Scotland.

Je ne regrette rien

The marketing industry looks set to enjoy a golden summer. (Or maybe not so golden as we’ll no doubt be fretting and sweating at our desks rather than lapping up the sunshine.) The latest Bellwether report predicts a continuing rise in marketing spend. Budgets increased in the first quarter of 2015 for the tenth time in a row, making this the most positive outlook recorded by Bellwether over the last eight years.

Digital spend continues to show the fastest growth closely followed by investment in events and direct marketing.

I’m about to bid my Chairmanship of the IPA in Scotland farewell, with some regret. I came into post with an ambition to focus on digital skills, ensuring that agencies here were as well-equipped as they could be to take advantage of the fast transforming media landscape. And I’m delighted that Bellwether confirms that this strategy has paid off.

The extent to which our environment has changed is old news. But twitter is less than 10 years old (just). Facebook celebrated its tenth birthday last year. Instagram was established in 2010 – and sold fifteen months later for $1 billion. Snapchat was 2011 (Evan Spiegel didn’t sell fifteen months later for $3 billion). WhatsApp was 2009 – and, in the daddy of all deals, sold last autumn for $22 billion.

Ten years on, it’s hard to remember a pre-status-update world: however did anyone know how happy and successful we were?

In 2006, people spent an average of 1.2 hours a day on the internet. By 2014, that figure had increased to 2.5 hours [1] Every day. We spend 85 minutes a day on our phones. 56 of these minutes are spent on the internet (on apps or websites). For 13 of these minutes, we’re texting. And for 7.5 of those minutes, we’re using our phone as was originally intended.

The question is no longer whether digital should be a part of your communications strategy – but how. (And how creatively.)

We’re perfectly placed in Scotland to take full advantage of the growth of the digital sector as home to two of the world’s leading game producers, Rockstar North (Grand Theft Auto) and 4J Studios (Minecraft Xbox 360).  We’re seeing some really exciting collaborations taking place. Guerrilla Tea Games in Dundee and Chunk in Glasgow are collaborating with Cancer Research UK and using real-world clinical data to speed up research into finding a cure for cancer, for example.

There’s still work to be done. A recent Scottish Parliamentary investigation recommended that Creative Scotland should lead in working with the gaming industry to:

“identify skills gaps, promote job opportunities to young people, and link education courses more closely with the industry.”

Working with schools and colleges to ensure education is fit for purpose, presenting our industry as a viable career option for young people and training our current staff to take full advantage of the changing market continue to be vital to ensuring the continuing growth of the sector. 

So as I come to the end of my IPA tenure, I’m delighted that our focus on furthering digital understanding may have contributed to sector growth in a country that already has an international reputation for excellence. I hope this success will continue for many Chairmen to come.

[1] IPA Touchpoints 5

Last updated 16/04/2015

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