We’ve heard it whispered in doorways and have seen graffiti with suggestions that it might be true. But now agencies need to prepare for the ‘death of the campaign’ and embrace direct digital marketing, say delegates of the Ad:Tech Conference in London.

The Brooklyn Brothers partner George Bryant has predicted the death of the campaign and called for brands to build a direct and enduring relationship with consumers.

Bryant suggests, “Agencies are no longer in the business of the ‘one night stand’. Today an agency can’t spend 18 months planning a campaign. They need to take advantage of momentum, learn quickly, do it and then do it better.”

Shaun Gregory, chief executive of mobile network Blyk, backs Bryant’s remarks, explaining that it’s no longer in the hands of marketers to decide how to approach consumers.

“There is a demand from consumers for this change in perspective. They want a relationship with a brand and they want to be asked what they think. It will become more complicated moving forward, but brands will have to respond to what the consumer wants,” Gregory says.

The UK teen series Skins is as an example of how a brand can maintain a relationship with consumers, even when it is not in the spotlight. A MySpace profile for the show has managed to carry on the communication with Skins community ages after the season has ended.

Using new footage, sneak previews and by offering users the chance to be an extra in the show, it’s been able to double the MySpace community before the next series starts.

Anthony Lukom, managing director at Myspace UK, says, “Successfully building a relationship with a community of consumers is an investment. But brands must also be prepared for what consumers will say about their product. It is scary to open up the communication channels, but if a brand embraces this, it will get instant feedback as to whether it’s strategy is working or not.”

But will online/digital communications be enough to kill the traditional ad campaign? It can be argued that TV (for example) still holds a firm grip on people over 40, so it may be a long time before campaigns are given a proper funeral.