I had coffee with the Creative Director of a prestigious agency. He just switched from digital to traditional, shooting TV commercials. He shared his newest commercial, a very creative work of art, destined to win awards. I asked him about his experience in the traditional advertising world: “I love it. Nobody nickels and dimes you to death. I used to have to fight for every penny in the digital agency, nobody questions budgets in the traditional world.”

While the digital media world is busy to get more efficient and cheaper, TV is celebrating a double digit increase in spending. TV commercial crews are busy re-shooting small parts of a commercial for $100k or so while digital folks spend sleepless sites for $20k with a profit margin of $0.02. And when you watch TV in the evening, you look longingly at the amazing production value of commercials while some crappy display ads hurt your eyes.

Don’t blame TV. Blame yourself.

Our approach to marketing and communicating the digital web was wrong right from the start: Cheaper. More efficient. Measurable.

We appealed to the left brain, to the penny pincher mindset. We’re not as sexy as TV but we are so much more cheaper. Our banner ad pales compared to a commercial but it’s so much more efficient. Nobody really sees banner ads but we can target your second cousin in Des Moines. Remember when people said “Social Media is for free?” Free never communicates value. (And it was never free, was it?)

Isn’t it fascinating?

The digital revolution has started to transform whole industries (ask music labels) and it’s already transforming how we connect with the world, changed our daily habits, the way we think. And, we’re just at the beginning of this revolution. Whole industries will disappear, replaced by innovative services and products. At the same time, the digital marketing world feels like a torn Valpak with discolored flyers full of misspellings.

We need to bring digital sexy back.

As infographics have shown us, data can be sexy. We need to communicate the sexiness of our insights better to our clients and internally. We have to focus more on value of digital communication and less on the cost-cutting promise. We need to give Creative Directors the freedom to produce more than just 300×250 ads and landing pages with a budget less than the catering for a one-day TV shoot. We have to focus on the long-term future of digital marketing and not the incremental changes of a DSP or Behavioral Targeting. We have to get excited again about the revolutionary changes we’re experiencing, the transformative nature of the digital lifestyle.

We need more passion in this space. Or we’ll never feel the love.