From the Department of Cautionary Tales: The rising, then falling, fortunes of Ling Ni-- http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/e8a1aa66-eda3-11e0-a9a9-00144feab49a.html#axzz1aOp6kzg7
I'm with you all, but want to pick up on Ted's point: "consistency" (of execution, as enforced by Brand Cops) isn't a virtue; more often than not it's a liability... But *authenticity* is more important than ever... which implies that adherence-through-time to the fundamental characteristics (values, experience, quality) that define a given brand is also more important than ever (even as, in this "sacrifice anything to male a quarter" world, it's harder than ever)... and "adherence-though-time" is just a jumped up way of saying consistency...
Feels to me that we're moving from a world in which the old "martial" view of marketing (with imagery like "campaign" and "controlling the dialogue") to one in which the more relevant view is social (with a small "s" :) and political-- a world in which the relevant image is the "movement"... one doesn't manage or control a movement, one *leads* it-- which is simply to suggest, as Erin and Ted do, that both agency-generated leadership and consumer-generated content/action matter absolutely.
Surely, more bankable information on performance is better... but beware the "drunk looking for his car keys" problem: when a drunk loses his car keys at night, where does he look? He looks where there's light... which is, of course, not necessarily where the keys are. Similarly, at a time like this-- when metrics are only just emerging, are unevenly available across platforms/channels, and are still evolving toward usefulness-- we have to be careful not be be buying/navigating by metrics as opposed to the outcomes that they're supposed to (but not yet really ready to) measure. I've watched concern with measuring ROI skew campaigns skew to more metrics-intensive media (and away from less-measurable). There are surely some cases in which those more-measurable media are also the *right* media. But there are some in which they palpably aren't... and in the end, it's all about find the keys, whether they're in the light or not.
A word of caution: "Declining importance" here may be more impactful than this ranking suggests, if only because most of the money/resources in the marketing environment are in the hands of incumbent companies experienced in and organized for those traditional channels... Making the transition to emerging new channels requires of these incumbents not only that (like new entrants) they "get the new media right"; it also requires that they manage the extremely difficult process of migrating away from their old skills/assets/habits. In times like these, "Barriers to Exit" are as important as-- or more important than-- Barriers to Entry.
FWIW, it seems to be both that we're in a time of great change AND that the fundamentals haven;t changed... after a several-decade long period during which brands could be fabricated and "worked" in the market via traditional channels, almost independently of the product/service being branded, we find ourselves in an environment of increasing transparency... That transparency makes for a landscape on which the most effective brands are the most authentic brands-- the brands that best capture the product's/service's effect and affect, the product's/service's concrete attributes (its function, quality, etc.) and the experience of buying and using it... this seems to me pretty "revolutionarily" different from the dominant practice of the last half-century-- and at the same time, a return to fundamentals.
I agree with Ted, though I'd suggest that it's less about "surrendering" control, than about coping with the fact that the control that was baked into traditional channel (and the traditional marketing that animated them) is being appropriated by users. The territories that ultimately made up the Mongul Empire weren't so much surrendered to, as taken by Genghis Khan. In that same way-- to Ted's point-- marketers need to rethink deeply and quickly: control of the communication we call "messaging" isn't theirs' to give in a world in which it's being taken by users in their own ways, for their own purposes, and at their own paces.
What seems "numbered" (that's to say, ultimately fated) to me is the broadcast logic that has defined traditional media channels as we've known them... Already "broadcast" has effectively become "narrowcast," as alternatives within channels proliferate and average channel audiences shrink... But the underlying impulse remains "one to many-- to as many as possible." And that's going the way of all flesh...