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Digital marketing is a poor cousin, on a dirt road, slouching toward Bethlehem

September 5th, 2011 by Tim Greenhalgh

First, apologies to Joan Didion and to W B Yeats for taking their perfect words to construct a headline that promises more than the text below will deliver. Shameless. If you want to read something of true value, go to Joan’s Slouching Toward Bethelem and maybe then read The Second Coming.

If you’ve come back – thanks and it’s much appreciated in this world of vibrant, wonderful noise.

I just wanted to follow up on my last post with some thoughts on why digital marketing, with all its energy, creativity and vision, is sucking on dust on a poor dirt road.

Image of a rutted track in britain

The reason why we are moving so very slowly is simply because we have been consigned to that rutted, slow road by the conscious intent of the very people we have put our faith in to do the right thing.

How many promises have we swallowed that have assured the delivery of a complete, national, digital infrastructure? Are you well tired of these promises? I am. Beyond tired.

I’m not a patient man by nature and it’s cost me dear. But sometimes, a lack of patience is a good thing. And in this case, there’s no argument.

Right now, in 2011, there is no reason, excuse or elegant spin-story that can convince me that the UK State has delivered what the digital market needs – and on what they have promised. I don’t care whether the commercial network providers or the social economy provides. Just get it done.

We demand and we need fast wireless and fixed broadband in every single place in the UK. Right now. It’s not too much to ask – and the UK economy needs it. The technology is mature and has been available for at least ten years.

What is singularly missing is the will. If Camo and Osbo and their LibDem partners lifted just a single finger, rather than two, they could provide the self-financing funds to complete the UK digital market infrastructure.

It would cost much less than bailing out a bank that, through no fault of its own, got itself into a spot of bother.

Meanwhile, as digital marketers, we know that we living on dreams and breathing donkey fumes. And Martha Lane Fox is the flak catcher- the main donkey-fume breather – for the Government’s “digital” strategy. That would be a middle digit, given their lack of support for her efforts.

Last time I looked, it was 2011. And in this year, we only have just over 75 per cent of the UK population connected to the internet. Worse, nearly 9 million people in the UK have never been online.

There is no rational reason why the whole of the UK cannot be connected – right now. It’s down to lack of will and fear on the part of the Government, and then the conservative greed of companies that take their lead from the political leaders.

With the right will and direction, we could all be connected, every single one of us, by this time next year. Think of the economic benefits this would bring – and the wealth of opportunities opened to the people who would be given power by this simple, true and right technology.

Whether we, as digital marketers, then understand how, when, where to engage is in our gift. We’d learn and move forward together.

So I would just ask – in what sense does the connection and engagement of every UK consumer not make economic sense?

Wake up Cameron, wake up Osborne – we’re waiting … and we’ve lost patience.

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