This is the enigmatic ending of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel The Great Gatsby. Published in 1925, an earlier age culminating in consumer crisis, the quotation is a meditation on the paradox of progress, suggesting that tomorrow’s solutions can be found in past experience.
The phrase has particular relevance in the context of the ad placement issues surrounding YouTube, as the industry wakes up to the full implications of the programmatic Pandora’s box it has opened. The initial concern that online advertising is merely misplaced and ineffective has evolved to the greater fear that it causes active damage. A generation of tech-first brands that are coming of age (including Facebook, Twitter, Uber etc.) now have to address the perennial concerns for which ‘traditional’ media have long been held to account, those of transparency, accuracy and honesty. The big data that underpins these brands’ value has become a double-edged sword, as it is now used to pinpoint their malpractice.
This week, Radiocentre launches a new campaign. It highlights the safety of our medium and is intended to remind senior brand decision-makers of the currency radio has in this area, at a time when many are questioning where their adverts appear. We focus on certain key strengths of the medium: our content is safe, consumer trust is high, effectiveness can be reliably measured and all inventory is accounted for so radio advertisers know exactly where their messages will be heard.
It is in the interests of the whole industry for advertising on all platforms to be honest, accountable and profitable. At the same time, we can all hope the scandal serves as a timely reminder that past principles of accurate messaging and reporting will always be relevant for brands and that radio is well placed to deliver these. To rephrase Fitzgerald, tomorrow we may well run faster, but running may simply take us back to the same place faster.
And yes, I used Google’s 2017 search engine to check a 1925 quotation.
Clare Bowen is Head of Creative Development at Radiocentre