ISBA chief says Web ads can hurt brands

Viral marketing and user-generated advertising could severely damage brands if they are not used properly, warns Mike Hughes, director-general designate of the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers.

Hughes, who takes over as director-general from Malcolm Earnshaw next March, adds that too many marketers fail to understand that viral and other online advertising can backfire.

He says: “The internet is such a powerful entity – probably the biggest threat to the control of communications and messages that any marketer has ever faced.”

Hughes would like to see the UK’s Codes of Advertising Practice extended to improve the regulation of online and interactive marketing, giving Ofcom and the Advertising Standards Authority more control over the area.

He also plans to make the creation of a definitive measurement system for online and other interactive media a priority when he takes office. ISBA has started developing a system but Hughes believes that it needs to be a priority now that 11% of marketing spend is online.

He says: “There is a need for all parties in the industry – advertisers, publishers and agencies – to collaborate on a measurement system. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”

Hughes was appointed by ISBA because his background combines traditional marketing and new media.

He is a former managing director of Guinness Brewing UK and chief executive of Bulmers but has also been involved with four technology start-ups over the past four years.

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