advertising and other stuff. no, really.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The future of advertising?

It’ll be on display soon enough for future generations to gaze in wonder at.

So says the treatise on Fast Company about the state of the union relative to advertising. Worth checking out because it nicely frames the overall vibe for how we arrived here relative to what clients have always gotten from agencies. Big Spaceship is also asking for responses to the what the Future of Advertising is.

Except, it didn’t feel like this piece was meant to answer that question but rather, just provide that snapshot. It’s an extensive look at how the structure of both the physical agency and its compensation model has changed behind the scenes.

Missing though is how clients have seemingly failed to keep pace with the level of agency change going on.
You can’t ask what’s changed without also looking at the role of brands here.

They’ll still expect the same type of tactical execution from most of the new players featured in the article (albeit with a few more media channels open to them). I’m as big an advocate for the latest and greatest, but we’re still in the first few years of changing the experience consumers have with brands. All driven at the top of the food chain by TV and retail promotions or incentives at the bottom. Take any major category and show me significant progress.

While the travel industry has seen a shift away from agents to DIY’ers on Priceline et al., the actual travel process is still not the amazing experience we all hope for. Long lines. Baggage fees. Pat Scans. Sounds like Nirvana to me.

The only two significant moves I’ve seen the automotive industry make are Ford’s Fiesta Project, or the ability to order cars online (and through eBay). However, it still doesn’t eliminate the dependency on big budget TV spots or the nightmare experience of dealing with showroom sharks.

Food, beer or spirits. In 20 years, has any of it changed? Free burgers on Facebook that you got tricked into liking and were probably rushed into redeeming. Otherwise, what we mostly see from brands now are Facebook pages in lieu of microsites, or mobile apps to help find your nearest dealer, or maybe an overly complicated treasure hunt for good measure.

While there are definitely a host of upstart brands with a social conscious – they’re covered here enough – when you look at the major consumer brands, the only thing that’s changed is how much more they want from their partners vendors and how much less they’re willing to spend.

What’s the future of advertising? More of the same, apparently.



Anonymous said...

Maybe I’m too deep in the game, but I didn’t see any new thoughts in the Fast Company piece. And it’s a mess to boot. Additionally, spending time talking to Victor & Spoils and GeniusRocket is a waste of time. V&S has only attracted desperate and cheap clients – plus, they’ve only produced work that rates a C at best. GeniusRocket is a total joke. I once won one of their “contests.” It was easy, and the joint is a shithole. Their latest “evolution” to become a curated crowdsourcing firm really means they’re a temp agency. And talking to Maurice Levy?! The man has zero understanding of the industry on any level. He’s just buying bodies/companies and hoping it will all fall together somehow. The opening scenario of immersing ad people in digital for 3 days is another con job. You cannot learn digital in 3 days. It goes back to Gladwell’s 10,000-Hour Rule. You don’t become an expert without about 10 years of experience. I sometimes see ad people faking their way in the digital space, but everyone knows they’re faking it. And their end work ultimately reveals it. Finally, to your point, the discussion is incomplete without examining/including clients. There is less evolution happening in the client cubicles – they only have the advantage of hiring and firing whichever vendor they see fit to hire or fire. Actually, the public needs to be included in the discussion too. God only knows what they think. Worse yet, they’ll never be able to articulate anything meaningful. I’m glad I was able to view the Fast Company piece online. Because if I had paid $5 for the magazine, I would have felt ripped off.

Anonymous said...

Wow someone either needs a hug or shouldn't post after Friday night cocktails.

Ben Kunz said...

The obvious problem is with the supply of creative and media space going up (thanks to 14-year-olds owning laptops with design software and nearly limitless ad inventory online), with fixed demand the price paid to agencies must fall. So, like many other industries, we're in a pricing squeeze.

We can respond by saying, "Oh, no, that new creative is not as good as ours, and those V&S clowns have substandard work," but that's a bit like railing against the tide. Content creation is everywhere so its price must fall.

The only response is to either live with lower prices (say, build a crowdsourcing platform and kill the overhead), or differentiate yourself to create the illusion of scarce supply (say, by creating bullshit agency positioning statements such as "we don't do advertising, we curate communities and build engagement"). Wonder if anyone will try those defenses.