Predicting the future of advertising is a vacuous exercise, but one that the business press consistently puts forward because people are concerned about the jobs they have today, and the jobs they may or may not have tomorrow.
There’s no question that the agency business fighting through a period of radical change to the business model.
Last year, I interviewed Joe Olsen, CEO of Rova. He said, “Agencies need to get more strategic. Their work is being commoditized. Right now, agencies are trying to catch up. In five years, adding strategic value will be ‘table stakes’.”
Here’s some good news. According to CMO.com by Adobe, Keith Eadie, VP and GM of Adobe Advertising Cloud, doesn’t believe any of the headlines about the demise of the advertising agency. He believes agencies are essential in helping brands come up with the big ideas that make emotional connections with potential customers.
Here’s an example of Adobe living their brand truth:
How Agencies Find the Way Forward
Jennifer Breithaupt, global consumer CMO at Citi, spoke to CMO.com about two key shifts in the brand-agency relationship.
The first is increased collaboration. “For brands to keep ahead of trends, we no longer have the luxury of multimonth creative planning sessions. We’re prototyping work quickly based on design-thinking principles and getting it to the finish line in collaboration with our agency partners.”
The second shift is growth in project-based work. “As brands adopt a sprint approach versus a marathon approach, smaller teams working on specialized projects in a condensed timeframe will become a more prevalent model,” Breithaupt said.
The message here is clear: Get nimble or get lost.
Know Thy Customer
CMO.com believes that advertising agencies of the future are those that can champion creative but also have expertise in strategy, consumer insights, and measurement.
For me, “consumer insights” stands out on their short list of present and future needs. How much do agencies, or the clients who hire them, actually know about customers and prospective customers? What if qualitative and quantitative research is not in the budget? What if it is, but the research presented lacks real insights that would lead to better creative solutions?
My assessment is agencies who can build a bridge from research and measurement to strategy and creative are going to win. Right now, it’s two encampments. One camp lives in the cold hard world of numbers, graphs, and data. The other camp is all about feelings and philosophies. The two tribes may never live together successfully, but strong agency leaders can help create peace and prosperity for all.