Marketers should be willing to take risks because in "this age of the jerks" no-one knows what is going to happen in three years time, according to Matthew Turner, director, online sales and marketing, BSkyB.
Speaking at the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) Engage conference yesterday afternoon, Turner described two theories describing how society evolves: the age of the jerks, as devised by Stephen Jay Gould; and the age of the creeps, as advanced by Charles Darwin.
Turner said he agrees with Sue Unerman, chief strategy officer at Sky's media agency MediaCom, and believes the marketing world is living in the age of the jerks because there are "long periods of stability punctuated by rapid change".
Using the examples of Procter & Gamble, American Express and Sky, Turner said successful companies are willing to take risks and learn from the experience when things go wrong.
Turner said: "At the highest level all these organisations viewed risk-taking as a portfolio. Some of them will succeed. Some of them will fail. It doesn't matter as long as the portfolio as a whole is successful.
"No one has a crystal ball. In this age of the jerks no-one knows what's going to happen in three years time let alone five years time. Those companies who are willing to take risks [will succeed]."
Alongside Turner, other speakers at the conference were Peter Duffy, marketing director at EasyJet, and Nick Lansley, head of R&D, Tesco.com.