07 Sep The Future Will Happen In A Second!
This blog post was written by Michael Franks, one of our North American consultants.
Advertising – Its Cost
Interrupting people’s lives
Is advertising over, that is, advertising as we knew it? The likes of David Ogilvy and Bill Bernbach left a legacy that is the advertising agency, and the industry of the same name; one that still graces our landscape. The question is: is the idea of interrupting people’s lives with ad messages still relevant, given contemporary consumer behaviour?
Let the confusion begin
In the middle of the 20th century, there were only three TV networks in the US, and one in Canada, so advertising was a ‘shooting-fish-in-a-barrel’ exercise that had the odds stacked in the brand camp. The proliferation of media channels today means that brands cannot hope to achieve the reach and awareness they once enjoyed, and they have to work much harder to win the attention of the consumer – and then, they need to do something clever, and differentiating, to persuade the consumer to interact with the message and consider sharing it in social media. All within seconds.
Technology proliferates at an astounding exponential rate, leaving little time for the industry to understand each new evolution, or its relevance for the consumer. The unprecedented amount of data and insights available to brand advertisers and their media and creative agencies is being used for brands’ commercial advantage, by the majority of advertisers and their agencies. We’ve never witnessed the pace of innovation we’re all experiencing, before. This is unchartered territory for all of us and we can choose to be excited, or scared, and sometimes we feel both emotions simultaneously!
Of course, we must continually absorb and understand innovation not least because it represents the new future of what advertising will become, and I don’t think the current industry will go willingly, largely because they’ve invested over half a century developing the model that advertising is today. Whatever it becomes, the signs point to less money being spent on traditional advertising formats, so the ad industry is unlikely to continue to enjoy the revenues of the past. This contraction is being felt across all industry, not just advertising. And as individuals as part of a workforce, we are all going to have to become more entrepreneurial, more flexible, to survive, because the number of jobs available, types of jobs and skillsets required will change dramatically.
Evolution is the hero!
Until the inevitability of evolution plays itself out, production consultants will be of greater value than before, because in times of uncertainty there is a more pressing need to ensure that creative and production spend is invested to generate the greatest ROI. When you just focus on saving costs, you quickly reach a finite point where it’s not possible to achieve significant cost savings without a significant change in expectation, or process.
Global brands will continue to advertise to global audiences. Brands need to continue to impact and influence consumers in both emerging and mature markets, where their channel behaviour and preferences will be different.
Rather than lament the passing of advertising’s golden age, and it’s considerable revenues, we need to understand how emerging channels and creative technology will impact consumer messaging, and influence, and adapt ourselves to best create and produce work that will achieve brands’ commercial and marketing objectives.
The Remarkable At Ridiculously Low Prices
What is digital?
We all know what broadcast is, but digital seems to be a vague shorthand for anything that is narrowcast on the web; banner ads, social media, content, with the consumer being targeted more precisely than ever before, due to programmatic algorithms.
Digital channels are certainly not just to be used for television commercials, something I see all too often. ‘Skip-in-5 secs’: What does that tell us about how much the industry knows about how the consumer feels about advertising and who gets the bad rap? Not the website that carries the ads, but the brand itself by association, which is surely counter-productive.
Did you know that one ad blocker company boasts 200 million downloads, if each person tells one person about it, that number will double in no time, and it won’t stop there; slowly the advertiser will be shut out of the web, then what? People will win because people are more powerful than any corporation…exponential growth at its shiny best. Want some?
Who likes commercials (Be honest)?
We are told that advertising pays for TV programming, but what about the huge success of Internet streaming companies like Netflix? No commercials, just a small subscription fee. What remains of TV networks is programming that is top-heavy with too many commercials. Does anyone really like commercials anymore? Do the people who work in the industry like commercials once they have taken off their work clothes? So why are we party to the proliferation of something that doesn’t serve any of us? (And no, I don’t believe they have to be a necessary evil.)
Here’s a clue to the future. On the news last week, I heard that Delta, United, American Airlines, and Air Canada had refused to carry hunting trophies from Africa. Four corporations as stewards for positive change, and yes, I’m talking about those brands right here, and none of those companies have paid for this endorsement. They called this ‘word-of-mouth’ advertising in the old days…and we all know how powerful that is.
Here’s another clue; those stories came to us via a news outlets that use journalists to research and report on issues. Given our propensity for stories, remember those ‘once-upon-a-time’ days? Wouldn’t it be interesting if journalists worked to uncover the stories behind a brand? But here’s the challenge, if you don’t have a remarkable brand, there’s no story; so the responsibility is on the client to create remarkable products; and note, a brand’s history is unlikely to capture the imagination of the younger generation anymore. Which leads to the question: Are there too many unremarkable brands? Imagine a new management position, the CST (Chief Story Teller), whose responsibility is to head up the editorial/story department of each brand. It’s the new and improved in-house creative department at a ridiculous low price! No agency required.
Just think how much money a corporation could save on marketing by adopting this ‘remarkable’ idea. Because once you have a remarkable story you go about sharing it with the public/consumers, and if it is remarkable and has a measureable, positive impact on people’s lives, they will tell someone else about it, perhaps a lot of people.
Have you seen the potential of the new motion picture-driven social media channel that streams live events? This is a new and exciting way to tell a story about your brand. Imagine a whole army of video journalists capturing brand stories.
Catalyst For Change
The role of the production consultant is rapidly changing. They are catalytic in supporting clients and their agency partners to understand, create and produce impactful messages and experiences in consumers’ preferential channels – at speed, and having fully discovered and scoped the process. It’s not easy, some productions are ground-breaking so sometimes mitigating risk can be scary- but it’s progressive and it’s certainly exciting!
I continue to be inspired by the thinking of Seth Godin (Author, entrepreneur, public speaker), Gary Vaynerchuk (VaynerMedia), Shane Snow (Contently), and Richard Branson (Virgin).