Advertising 2009: The Flight to Value

In the Hutong

Dreaming of a White Chanukah

1554 hrs.

The advertising business is no less worried about 2009 than any other industry, and the malaise pouring out of Madison Avenue has found its way to Beijing and Shanghai. I think the gloomy prognostications of “blood on the walls” and an industry that craters rather than dips are all a bit overdone.

The other meme that has found its way into the minds of the industry here in China is that the economic downturn will compel advertising agencies, clients, and media buyers to become more disciplined about where the ad spend goes, looking for greater returns on the advertising dollar invested than before. Many think this will mean a shift to digital.

Ian McGuinn, who heads up sector research at JLM Pacific Epoch, notes that Matt Roberts at About.com China agrees. Matt believes that 2009 will not see a flight to digital per se, but a flight to value across all media.

I agree with Matt, and not just because (full disclosure) he’s a client. It starts with the fact that different clients in China understand value in significantly different ways. I explain why in a post here.