The ad industry is stuck in tradition. And while many clients love this way of doing business, tradition is faltering in the digital era. The role of an agency and the way it creates work is changing, whether you are ready for it or not. Just look to Jeff Goodby’s recent letter to GS&P staff for an example of how even larger agencies are rethinking their structure, outsourcing and roles.
This past month, I attended BOLO (Be On The Lookout), a digital marketing conference in Scottsdale, Ariz. The most discussed topic was how agencies can take traditional modes of doing business and transform them to remain relevant. I asked attendees how they viewed the disruption of the advertising industry.
Steve Wolgemuth | CEO, YDOP
I don’t think it’s getting disrupted. I think it is in a state of serious disruption. Audiences are message-averse. Marketers are promoting more messaging. Audiences require twice as many brand exposures for the same amount of influence as in the ‘70s, but they don’t trust messages and media that marketers control. Audiences trust reviews, recommendations and natural SEO, but marketers focus more on other channels. It is increasingly hard for a brand to find a strategic advantage, to promote that position or talk about its benefits to a skeptical audience.
Dan Zelikman | Co-founder, Mentalpez
Good advertising is really great storytelling — and the way we tell stories is constantly evolving. I think the disruption is coming from technology and the ability for people (let’s stop calling them consumers) to call out bad products and tell the world about them. Stop selling, and tell your story. If people like what they hear, they’ll know what to do.
Bryan Rotunno | Midwest Sales Director, Centro
The ad industry has been disrupted by the fact that it’s no longer acceptable for brands to talk ‘at’ consumers in a one-way communication form like they have in the past. The mass adoption of technology, connectivity and social media requires brands to craft engaging, thoughtful two-way conversations with consumers and to expect and welcome consumer feedback and dialogue. The advertisers who embrace this concept and build marketing programs around it will thrive; the rest will lose market share and eventually die off.
Elton Mayfield | Partner, ER Marketing
The disruption is happening because the control has completely shifted from advertisers to the audience. Every buyer in B2B or B2C can pick and choose when and where he gets his information. He can skip the ad or message if he wants. This is why B2B buyers are nearly two-thirds of the way through the funnel before they engage with sales. Buyers don’t need sales until late in the process. The buyer can educate, compare and get a review long before he comes in contact with your company, brand or message.
Anna Norregaard | Agency Partner Programs,HubSpot
We are beginning to see a change in how brands market and engage with customers — finally meeting and leveraging the paradigm shift in how consumers want to engage with brands. The result is that brands are increasingly building relationships with their customers through content by providing a service that adds value to their lives and businesses.
Evo Terra | Co-founder, ePublish Unum
Advertising faces three threats: disintermediation, commoditization and relevance. The first two are known quantities, but the last one is where the biggest threat lies. And luckily, it’s the one that’s directly under the control of the advertiser.