The golden age of advertising may be just ahead of us. This is according to Catherine Bension, CEO of Select Resources, one of the largest advertising agency search consultants in the world. Bension presented at a recent ad industry conference in Milan, Italy on behalf of Worldwide Partners (www.worldwidepartners.com). This is an interesting thought to ponder, given the complexities the proliferation of media has brought to advertisers.
Consider for a moment how difficult it is becoming for marketers to consistently get their messages in front of their most important audiences. With myriad choices, many advertisers are less visible to their core audiences. A primary reason is that consumers are not consuming media in the ways they did even five years ago. While time in front of video screens is increasing, these screens now include e-mail, Internet web searching, video games, and DVD movies. While much television is viewed, TIVO is giving consumers control to skip over commercial messages wholesale pipes.
As a result, it is more important than ever that all elements of advertising programs work from the same central theme or idea. Since reach and frequency needs are no longer met by using traditional media methods, an effective program requires that messages rigorously reinforce each other at every point of consumer contact. Given the way most advertisers are organized, this is a tall order.
Many advertisers have different groups handling advertising, direct marketing, sales promotion, Web site design, and public relations. Within most organizations, these groups are independent and do not collaborate in ways to ensure success in this new media age.
Advertising agencies are mostly organized in a manner similar to their clients. They run specialty areas like direct marketing, interactive, and advertising as separate business entities. Each area is vertically integrated with full service staffing. In practice, this does little to solve the realities of today’s media world.
Bension’s organization, Select Resources, helps marketers with significant budgets find agencies that are the right fit for the marketer’s needs. They also know what is on the mind of decision makers for household brands when it comes to advertising their products and services.
At the Milan conference, Bension summarized what today’s marketers want from their ad agencies. First, they are concerned about the proliferation of media and the resulting complexity this creates. They want their agencies to help them spend their money more effectively, and they want holistic solutions and agencies that that are capable of sorting out all the things they can and should do. Most importantly, per Bension, clients are coming to recognize that creative is now more critical than ever. Clients need powerful ideas that are executed with high impact, and they are willing to pay for them. They seek creative that also can cover all advertising specialties.
This makes a lot of sense. If media is fragmented, one of the best ways to emerge from the sea of daily messages is by having ads that have stopping power to engage consumers. The “big idea” can help campaigns emerge from the clutter and can also bring cohesion to the whole communication mix including specialty areas like direct marketing.
Why might the golden age of advertising be ahead of us? The old rules no longer apply, and there is huge opportunity for enterprising organizations to remix things. With the huge broadband “pipe” getting into more and more American homes, we will see new and more exciting uses of motion graphics that will be far more fun and exciting to create than television ever was. Smart agencies will organize around the new realities. This will include more cross-training of staff around multiple areas of advertising specialty.
We are also coming into an age where the quality of the creative work is more important than ever before, and great work is not a commodity that any firm can deliver at the lowest possible price. This will open new doors for agencies to drive healthy profits.
If Bension is correct, we will see our industry move into the most exciting time in its history. This will be tough for firms that are resistant to change. For those who are, the opportunities will be boundless.