For awhile, I considered whether we could call this annual edition of Ad Age the Post-Digital Issue.
Consider the evidence: Nobody thinks about having digital experiences vs. analog experiences; in fact, we jump between the two without a thought -- or, in many cases, we have them simultaneously. How many of you watch TV with a laptop in front of you or walk around with a mini-computer in your pocket? (And have you tried to buy a TV recently? Try finding one that comes sans internet hookup.)
Secondly, we've seen a stark evolution in the kinds of companies leading the way in digital success. In the past, as part of our Digital A-List, we've honored a Who's Who of Silicon Valley: Google, Twitter, Hulu, etc. We've got a few of those on the list this year, but you'll also see many more marketers, including Starbucks, Mtn Dew and our cover girl (and arguably the entertainment brand of the year), Lady Gaga. Even one of the Silicon Valley stalwarts on the list, Facebook, is probably more a nod to Procter & Gamble, Honda and Ikea than anything else. It's a sign, I think, that marketers, too often categorized as slowmoving and digitally challenged, have done a pretty good job embracing the changes that technology has wrought.
Finally, we've long said that all our reporters should be digital reporters because the marketers, agencies and media companies they're covering these days have to be digital as well. I'm proud to say that this is now true, and you'll find this digital issue is a compendium of all the Ad Age staff.
I asked one of the biggest digital thinkers I know, Rishad Tobaccowala, about this post-digital concept -- I know he's been debating it as well. His take? There's also a huge shift within marketing organizations. In short, you've got marketers who want digital expertise, but don't necessarily want that broken out from the rest of their agencies or marketing brain trust. So the question, he said, becomes: "Can analog companies become digital faster than digital companies can become analog?"
And perhaps that's the best argument against calling this the Post-Digital Issue -- yet. There are a lot of folks still figuring out digital's effect on consumer behavior, and which technologies and trends are passing fads or truly applicable. We'd like to be the guide.
This annual issue has become an important resource for us to offer. In it, you'll again find our Digital A-List of 10 companies and technologies that showed us what digital success looks like. There's the popular "Your Questions Answered" section, where we address burning queries on a variety of key digital topics from search to social to mobile. And there's a mix of interesting stories and viewpoints from our staff and around the industry.
We hope you enjoy it, find it useful and let us know your thoughts.