Arthur Fleischmann, President/Partner, john st. advertising
1. What could, or should, advertising look like in the future?
Advertising really hasn’t changed that much since the Mad Men roamed the earth. Sure, there’s a little less booze and a lot more technology. But agencies are still tasked with coming up with creative solutions to tough business and marketing problems. Even the basic drivers of human behaviour, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, is still in play as far as I can tell. People are drawn to that which enhances well-being and driven away from that which leaves them less well-off.
What has changed is the democratization of advertising. Advertising was built on an interrupt and repeat model. Frequency and reach were the deities to which we prayed. Like a petulant child, marketers hoped that if they spoke sufficiently loud and often, they would get noticed.
Today, the consumer has as much control over the success of a marketing campaign as the CMO. Maybe more. With an ability to comment, create and share, the consumer takes the brand’s message and makes it jump the tracks from one medium to another – from TV to YouTube; YouTube to twitter or a text – morphing, enhancing or denigrating it as spreads. By 2020, a mere 6 years away, this will accelerate as mobile becomes faster, cheaper and more enabled.
So like the inventors of the Soap Opera (thank you, P&G and Benton & Bowles) agencies are in the business of creating content that will draw consumers into the brand, leaving them with an affinity for it. In addition agencies need to think about arming these fans with the tools to share their (hopefully positive) sentiment. So with this democratization, the agency’s role has evolved; from creating consumers to creating influencers.
2. What should we do now to get ready for that future?
What will it take to create influencers?
Think like a storyteller. Stories influence and spread. Social platforms are fuelled by stories – visual, written and spoken. I think we’ll see creative departments evolve to include a broader set of creative talent to help tell long-format stories that cut across tech and media platforms.
Act quickly. Great opportunities won’t wait for long briefing, incubation, approval and production cycles. There will have to be parallel work streams for spontaneous and opportunistic creative that addresses something going on in the brand and consumer’s world.
Measure the journey. The model of the consumer journey has evolved but the way its measured hasn’t changed much since the 1970s. Marketers in North America spend nearly $12 billion on tracking consumers’ awareness and intentions. Over the next decade we’ll have more integrated real-time tools that track the behavioural journey from awareness to engagement to evangelism. Agencies will need to get on board to be thought leaders or suffer the consequences of being followers.
T-shaped teams. Agency staff will require breadth in all forms of communication and depth in specific areas. Clients want to speak with one person who can solve the problem and not have to engage in multiple conversations. This means hiring from a broader pool and providing more practical training in social media, technology, PR and complex project management.
It may be a scary time for some. I say bring it on.