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IAB Engage: COI chief champions digital's influence

LONDON - Digital is "probably the pivotal channel" for the future and social media gives it the power to change people's behaviour through conversations, COI chief executive Mark Lund told the IAB's Engage conference.

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Lund laid out how the government's strategy is to use digital both as a cheaper platform for providing services than call centres and as a way to join up communications across all media channels.

While saying he took the job because of the "sheer range" of communications the COI can and has to use, he singled out digital and social media's potential in helping the COI meet objectives such as combating obesity, binge drinking and climate change. COI has grown its spend on digital threefold since 2006.

Lund said: "We face unprecedented social challenges but we have the tools to affect attitude and behaviour more deeply that we ever have done before."

Examples Lund provided of successful activity included the safe sex-focused interactive mobile drama 'Thmbnls', produced at a cost of £250,000. While this was successful in terms of how much it engaged the people who watched it, Lund admitted that more could have been done to tell a wider audience of its existence.

In another example he claimed that "unmediated and uncensored" blogs and video diaries linking the public directly to members of the RAF had resulted in the RAF attracting interest from the widest group of people to date.

Lund wants Government to pursue the avenue of using online to engage people in conversation. The COI and Cabinet Office have drawn up social media guidelines for civil servants to engage with people online.

In future he hopes that the government departments will use digital to engage the citizenry in the process of deciding policy on matters like power stations, schools and policing. This would save taxpayer money as "public engagement is incredibly expensive face to face".

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