Respect between online and broadcast must be restored

The skies are rumbling - the earth is out of sorts. Last week, my fellow Media Week scribe Richard Eyre promoted an IAB perspective in his column (page 15), breaking the unwritten columnists' etiquette.

Tess Alps is chief executive of Thinkbox
Tess Alps is chief executive of Thinkbox

So, to restore balance, I have been allowed to blow some cooling Alpine breezes onto Richard's hot Eyre. If you're as bored as I am with all the silliness surrounding the whole "internet overtakes TV" issue, stop reading now.

As you probably know, the IAB recently issued a headline-grabbing release to the national press, crowning itself the "single biggest advertising medium". It positioned itself as the "winner" and, by implication, TV as the "loser", despite the fact that, according to the IAB's figures for January to June, TV had also increased its share of advertising.

National journalists have long peddled a damaging and misleading TV versus internet line, and here was a total gift. The news was accompanied by a raft of apocalyptic predictions for TV from respected media commentators, such as Rio Ferdinand.

Journalists wanted Thinkbox's reaction so we, not unreasonably, made a statement where we said the comparison was "interesting but meaningless" (because TV is a display medium and the IAB included classified, search and e-mail marketing under "internet") and the IAB's release missed the very complementary nature of broadcast TV advertising and all online media.

We unstintingly praised the internet, including its ability to deliver TV, and complimented the IAB on impressive growth. But we pointed out that, using the IAB's own rules, including classified, surely print was the biggest advertising sector. At the very least, the IAB had suffered from "premature enunciation".

Since then various luminaries from the online world have described our comments as "carping", "grumpy", "hair-splitting" and "harrumphing". They obviously meant to say "valid", "considered", "generous" and "restrained". It's a bit rich, surely, to expose TV knowingly to lots of ill-informed abuse and then tell us off for offering our perspective on the issue when asked.

We were accused of spoiling the IAB's celebration, as if it was some innocent kid with TV louts crashing its birthday. To us, it felt more like an out-of-control party, which didn't care how much it inconvenienced its neighbour, with a few ugly guests who delighted in vomiting on the neighbour's lawn; just read some of the headlines and comments on online blogs.

Rain clouds over - can we now restore positive relations and mutual respect between the online and broadcast communities please?

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