Carl Hartman – 2020

Carl Hartman, E-Commerce Practice Lead, Ogilvy & Mather

At its heart, advertising hasn’t changed since its inception, and it will remain the same in 2020 – it is a way of convincing someone to buy something.  All ads are attempting to accomplish this behavioral construct.

What will change are context and form. The more I know about who I am targeting, the more relevant my message can become.  Because of the ubiquity of mobile phones, we know where a person is, which provides context.  Because of social networks, we know what a person’s opinion is of products, services and cultural topics, which provide a rich profile that can be created to ensure message relevance. By 2020, this contextual data will be used in much more sophisticated ways.  Also, advertisers and agencies will find ways of automating personalized messaging, which will erode the barrier of the unrealistic production costs behind one-to-one messaging on a mass scale.  Finally, as television and internet technologies blend, the mass personalization idea can finally find an available medium.

What we will need to do now

We will have to change the agency structure and process. We are hearing the sonic boom today of a collision of traditional and digital agency offerings that has happened already.  After all, the media forms have been blended for some time when I can get the New York Times in paper form and on my iPad seamlessly.

Clients are increasingly concerned about the costs of agency fragmentation.  Do I really need an ad agency, a social agency, a PR agency, a mobile agency, and an ecommerce agency?  My bet is that as the forms and disciplines collide, so too will the best practices each party brings.  The strong strategic skills, brand understanding and consumer orientation of traditional agencies will always be in demand and required.  Yet, the digital agencies have figured out a better process. Rather than an expensive rifle shot process, where a single ad is conceived, tested and produced before being consumed to the point of wear-out, the leading digital models are quite the opposite.  Digital models create multiple messages and serving them up quickly to audiences and then continuously optimizing the best content is the process of the future, and brands having an instantaneous response to social listing platform insights is another winning practice.  Quick, inexpensive multiple message shotgun blasts on an ongoing basis will replace the network tv reach driver process of the past.

And finally, talent will need to change. We will need more “hybrids” – people who understand more than one vertical, who can begin to integrate specialties into a more accretive whole.  Someone said there are only four people in the world who understand all the components of an iPhone.  Those people are extremely valuable.  The same will be true of agency “horizontal” experts, who understand the whole.