WASHINGTON, DC: A congregation of the great and the good among the globe's advertising community convened this week at the International Advertising Association's 41st annual World Congress to worship at the shrine of the Great Online Deity (aka GOD).

The web, seen by many marketers as a latterday parting of the Red Sea of Recession by Moses in the guise of Tim Berners-Lee, was the primary topic for discussion.

The GOD factor and the opportunities it offers to marketers was evangelized by a variety of preachers, among them Microsoft president of platforms and services Kevin Johnson; Leo Burnett USA ceo Tom Bernardin; Tribal DDB West president Elizabeth Ross and Interpublic Group chairman/ceo Michael J Roth..

All agreed that new technologies will allow better tracking and better targeting – although this will be totally negated if the creative content fails to generate consumer interest.

There was also unanimity that the growing digital convergence (ie GPS-equipped phones) will offer opportunity for extending advertising's reach.

The preachers then delivered a series of sermons. First into the pulpit was Leo Burnett's Bernadin.

"Technology has altered how we drive insights, how we provide a more relevant message, how we develop branded experiences and how music plays a role in people's lives," he said.

"It's impossible for me to find an area of our business technology hasn't touched, and the rapid rate at which changes continue to take place is absolutely breathtaking."

A gasp of amazement at his revelation reverberated through the temple. 
'Holy Joe' Johnson of the Microsoft Mission to the Heathen then bounded to his feet, urging the swaying gathering to have faith in his employer's advertising technology.

This he hailed as an "enabler" that giveth ad agencies new possibilities for creating content and delivering it at times when consumers can react and use it.

And in a Damascene flash of revelation, he assured the congregation that Microsoft understands that content is the key to how well an ad works.

"We understand our role," he said, adding that Microsoft is eager to provide the tools that enable agencies be more creative and help with accountability. 

Next, fresh from his miraculous raising of the dead at IPG, the Reverend Roth predicted creativity would thrive in the digital space. Digital expertise is being built into all elements of marketing at Interpublic, he said, and will play a role in loyalty programs, product awareness and other elements of the marketing mix.

Speaking in tongues, according to some attendees, Roth revealed: "What is happening today, is digital has to go out and cross all the funnels. We no longer look at digital as a discreet driver.

"This is a technology-enabled marketing environment. All the marketing specialists need to be well-versed in digital." 

Then in seeming defiance of *Timothy 2:11-12, Tribal DDB's Elizabeth Ross ascended the pulpit. Consumers, she told the congregation, are the center of the new digital universe and it requires a major change in marketing thinking.

"Consumers are the new media and they know it. You have to market with consumers, not at consumers. Ultimately it becomes a collaborative process. It's no longer linear."

She also warned against equating time spent online with selling ability. "As an industry we need to get smarter about what data sells the product. We can get really tied up on time spent."

[*'A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.']
Here endeth the lessons.

Data sourced from AdAge.com; additional content by WARC staff