I’ve been doing a lot of thinking these days about where our business and the advertising and marketing sector as a whole is headed in the next few years. The events of this year and the global pandemic in particular, will reshape the future of advertising as we know it.
The advertising world like many other businesses is constantly evolving. But that change is usually quite slow and incremental. However once in a while there’s a sea-change in the industry…The jump from Print to Digital, Network TV to Cable, direct media buying to programmatic and from AOR to project work. All these transformations fundamentally changed the way creatives developed campaigns, the way media teams planned campaigns, the way account teams forged and maintained relationships with clients and ultimately how clients related to their ad agencies. We are now on the cusp of another radical transformation.
What the pandemic has done is forced us to change the way we relate to our work, our colleagues and our clients. Working remotely has forced us to reevaluate the way we do business. Do we need to have cool and trendy open-plan loft space in Manhattan? Do we need face to face creative sessions in a room full of Art Directors and Writers to do great creative work? Do we need to have in-person meetings with clients to understand their needs? The answer is no. We all want work life to go back to “normal” but that new normal will, of course, be different.
According to a recent report by the research firm Forrester, 11% of digital, creative and media agency tasks in the U.S. will be automated by 2023. “Agencies will become smaller yet smarter as machine learning and robotic processing automation help plan and buy media, create and produce content, measure and adjust marketing, develop products and experiences, manage operations, and select talent,” the report stated. That’s a lot of ad copy written by algorithms, A.I. art direction and machine learning media planning.
New tech is fundamentally changing the ad industry and ultimately it means that future agencies will be smaller, leaner and smarter. Clients will also have to adjust to these new changes, and I feel that because smaller agencies are already somewhat working within this new reality and are more agile and flexible, they will be better equipped to adjust and implement these changes in the near term and therefore become a more attractive option for many clients.
I’ve worked in the advertising industry for 30 years. I’ve worn many hats, as a creative working in large and small agencies in the US and Europe and as an agency owner. And in that time, I’ve come to realize that change is inevitable, and transformation needs to be embraced. None of us can be sure what the new reality for advertising will be like post pandemic, but I’m ready for the next adventure.