“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
– Charles Dickens, “A Tale of Two Cities” in reference to the French Revolution, (I am also a history buff which is a little ironic for this website)
As a 26 year old career-searching, tech-savvy, media-junkie, with big agency experience, I would argue that this statement is true for anyone trying to find a defined career path during the Digital Revolution. Don’t get me wrong – I consider myself extremely lucky to be a witness, a participant and hopefully a key player in this great time of change. Technology will provide us with an infinite number of new opportunities to be innovative and creative – especially from a marketing perspective. We cannot even begin to comprehend the extent of change and progress that will occur in the next ten years. There is an insatiable demand for innovation and this truly is the best of times. What could be more exciting?
While many industries will be forced into radical transformations and upheaval, none will be more affected than the Media, Marketing and Advertising trade. For the old Madison Avenue stalwarts, this will prove to be the worst of times. Already companies like Google threaten the very existence of an agency that specializes in strategically placing your advertisements. Google has transcended the Internet genre and seeks to expand their pinpoint targeting expertise to radio, print and even television. Google is only the tip of the iceberg – maybe even just a catalyst.
Currently, the allocation of billions of dollars is determined by research methods and protocols that have been the standard for thirty years or more. The relevance of Nielsen ratings will essentially be obsolete in five years (thanks to DVR, VOD and ofcourse internet video access).
What will happen to the big advertising agencies – the JWT’s the Y&R’s and the McCann Ericsons? Upheaval and Revolution. Will the same agency structure be relevant in the 21st century? Managers and decision makers are either in denial or secretly scared to death. In his book “Life After The 30-Second Spot”, Joseph Jaffe addresses this issue in depth. I strongly suggest reading Chapter 10 if you work at an ad agency and care about your future.
One might argue that it is ok to be cautious. For example: do not immediately embrace or invest in a new type of media or technology that is not completely established yet. Don’t devote an entire department to people who specialize in only one medium. That’s exactly the approach that WPP’s Martin Sorrell is taking. The opposite, of course is Publicis’annoncement of new wing Denuo, specializing in emerging media. Which side of the spectrum will prevail? Who knows. Maybe neither.
One might also argue that the current big-agency model is not even capable of adapting to new technologies quickly enough. Shouldn’t it be the responsibility of leaders to re-think the strategy of the future?
In his book “The World is Flat”, Thomas Friedman strongly urges businesses to develop a model and structure that is highly adaptable to change. He warns that jobs, industries, and entire careers will be born and die due to the rapid pace of technology. This will prove to be very true for the future of Advertising. The new agency model of the 21st century will be effective for it’s unconventional, highly adaptable and constantly evolving structure. It will continue to mold and shape itself around what is important. It will constantly embrace change and technology in order to survive unlike its predecessors whose fates lie with the dinosaurs.
Will the baby-booming leaders of the big ad agencies understand the implications of new technology and emerging media? Will it be the best of times or the worst of times for marketers and advertisers? By the way – even the pope has an iPod!
[tags]denuo, advertising, advertising agency, new media, madison avenue, WPP, Publicis, Martin sorrell, Thomas Friedman, joseph jaffe, DVR, marketing future, google, google advertising, marketing.fm, Denuo[/tags]