Digital Youngsters Have Mad Men On the Run

don draper drown Digital Youngsters Have Mad Men On the RunFast Company published a sprawling feature today on the seismic disruptions underway on Madison Avenue, where traditional firms and players are finding themselves overthrown by digital upstarts. As writer Danielle Sacks puts it:

Most of the men and women here — average age: 38 — have worked at agencies for more than a decade. Such tenure used to be considered an asset, but these days it’s more of a liability. They’re all well aware that coding is now prized over copywriting and that a résumé that includes Xbox and Google is more desirable than one featuring stints at BBDO or Grey.

There is an irony, of course, that advertising is only now beginnging to discover the disruption wrought by the internet. After all, the failure of digital advertising to replace decling print revenues was what crippled some of America’s greatest newspapers.

In the ad business, the relatively good life of 2007 is as remote as the whiskey highs of 1962. “Here we go again,” moans Andy Nibley, the former CEO of ad agency Marsteller who, over the past decade, has also been the CEO of the digital arms of both Reuters and Universal Music. “First the news business, then the music business, then advertising. Is there any industry I get involved in that doesn’t get destroyed by digital technology?”

Actually, no, there isn’t. Luckily, even as prestigious agencies lose their luster and senior partners watch in horror while young digerati eat their lunch, New York maintains its place of primacy in the advertising world. From Hyper Island to Ad.ly, innovators in ad-tech recongize the value of planting a flag in Silicon Alley.

bpopper [at] observer.com

@benpopper