The Advertising Agency Of The Future

How To Future-Proof Your Advertising Agency

The advertising agency of the future needs some serious planning and agility. No surprise here. But, what is surprising to me is the wide range of attention, or lack thereof, to the future I see in the advertising world.

Just for the hell of it. I’ll start with the good old days.

My first job in advertising was at Dancer Fitzgerald & Sample. Back in the 1980’s DFS was New York’s largest advertising agency. We were sweetly based in the iconic Chrysler Building. At that time, we did not spend lots of gray matter on thinking about the future of the advertising agency business because we were making a 15% commission on media and 16.5% on production. We had a sweet client list that included General Mills, P&G, RJR Nabisco, Sara Lee, Northwest Airlines (I ran the account and our annual profits were $6 million on $9 million in revenues), HP and Toyota. As you might expect, we were not too concerned about reinvention. All this client and revenue firepower helped Saatchi & Saatchi love and buy Dancer in 1986.

Today advertising is a radically different business and ad agencies need to be thinking about how to be positioned for a future where multi-year AOR clients; 15% media commissions; three primary media types (TV, print, radio); a positive global network effect and loyalty are attributes of the past.

Not to get too down, but today the advertising world is about project work, crazy price consciousness, competition from all sides (large consultancies, in-house agencies and your ex-Creative Director who does just fine as a freelancer).

Bummed Out?

Look, for many agencies, it is kinda fucked up out there. As the famous Chinese curse says, “May you live in interesting times”. But, but, there are still agencies that grow and make bucks. You can too.

So, in preparation for this blog post – yes, it is ultimately about how to position your agency for the future – I read a bunch of articles on “the advertising agency of the future.” Not too surprising, this is a hot topic.

Interesting (as in ‘Uh Oh’) the first page of Google has articles on your future from traditional agency killers like Deloitte, Accenture, Adobe, (an Adobe site).

The agency industry perspective is not on Google’s page one. It isn’t until page two that Inc., AdAge, The Drum and the ANA get to chime in.

I stopped trying to find an actual advertising agency perspective delivered via this search term by the time I got to page four. Do the big guys (even WPP, Publicis, Omnicom, etc.) not want to discuss the future?

Some Findings On The Future on Advertising

Here are some of the highlights from my research. I’m listing these in random order. I’ll have my personal thoughts a bit later. Read More »

The Internet – A New Discovery

The Internet – Great Music

I’m heading to Mexico City for a few days. So, here is something to keep you busy. It’s about the Internet.

I discovered The Internet in 1994. I had been working in Saatchi’s London office. An office sans any discussion of the Internet, or better yet digital marketing platforms like CD-ROM’s (look them up if you are way young.) Luddite land.

My discovery happened when I returned to New York. I remember watching my first CD-ROM and said, ‘Whoa” what is this stuff and, yup it’s a marketing platform. This discovery got me to meet with digital guys like Ted Leonsis.

Digital Native

I love the term ‘digital native’. It describes my kids. I am not sure that they remember the days pre AOL and the birth of the graphical browser – the ever-present mobile phone. A definition…

Digital native: a person born or brought up during the age of digital technology and therefore familiar with computers and the Internet from an early age.

Why mention this? I view myself as a digital native. While not “born or brought up during the age of digital technology”, I cannot remember the days pre-digital. OK, that’s bullshit. I do remember. Most importantly for my audience, we seem to have forgotten some of what actually makes marketing work – stuff from the old days. I’ll keep it simple… I mean having a big idea, something that resonates with your audience, something that a creative mind (not an algorithm) serves up — I know you know this. Therefore here is a creative organization that might get your creative juices flowing.

Today’s The Internet.

Heard of The Internet? Um, the band?

Here’s the band’s Come Over video. Very cool. They are simply in the groove – a modern take on R&B. What Pitchfork has to say,

The fourth album from the R&B collective is a peak example of their combined powers. It simplifies their sound with soft-focus blues, plush arrangements, and deep-in-the-ground grooves.

The video. While you are at it, check out the band’s other videos. Maybe you’ll get an idea for your ad agency videos.

The Ultimate Advertising Agency List

How Do Clients Find Your Advertising Agency? Think List.

There are multiple ways that a prospective client will find an advertising agency. These range from very aggressive agency outreach to highly intelligent outreach (yup, two different approaches) to your inbound program to your agency reputation to being on the radar of search consultants to simply getting found on the day that new client wakes up and says, “How can I find my new advertising agency” and locates an advertising agency list.

While you should have a very intelligent in and outbound business development program, you must be available when a client goes to Google and searches on advertising agency list.

Put yourself in the client’s shoes, they love Google – I know this, I did some keyword activity work.

An extra benefit of my list. You want to look hard at your competitors and their best marketing practices. These lists will help you find the winners.

The List Of Advertising Agency Lists

Here is a quick look at the advertising lists you should be on. Some will be easy, some will require a bit of work. But, you need to be able to be found.

Wikipedia’s List of Advertising Agencies. This list is not just the big boys.  An example, Tombras group from Knoxville is on the list.

AdAge’s A-List. Look, there must be some way that AdAge finds these agencies. Maybe you should think about letting the editors know that you are alive.

AdForum. Hey, this is what they say and I’d imagine that clients pay attention… “AdForum’s Global Directory of Advertising Agencies is the advertising industry’s premier resource for learning about agencies in the USA, Europe, Asia, Oceana, and MENA. Our interactive map identifies agencies according to region and core competencies – ranging from digital marketing and social media
strategies to mobile app development, brand engagement, and product design.”

AgencyList. Why not be here? You have to dig this fact… “Agency List has 1st page Google exposure in over 45 major cities.” Read More »

Does Your Advertising Agency Do Content Marketing Right?

Is Your Advertising Agency A Savvy Content Marketer?

I’ve read acres of advertising agency content (blogs, white papers, videos, on LinkedIn, etc.). Some rock and some suck. Many agencies, once they have stellar content, do not put in the effort to spread the wealth. As in, they do not amplify their brilliant thinking across a range of social media and traditional marketing platforms. This is a missed efficiency driver. Here’s a how to maximize your hard content building work.

To be clear, ‘content’ means the stuff that agency’s use to deliver their insightful thought leadership programs which are designed to sell the agency’s brains, expertise and to drive inbound visits and interest. Just for the hell of it, here is the definition of content from Google…

A type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online material (such as videos, blogs, and social media posts) that does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services.

Here is another well-crafted definition from the Content Marketing Institute…

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.

Great Content: Part One

One of the best content marketing companies I’ve visited/read is TrinityP3 an Australian-based global marketing management consultancy with offices on four continents. TrinityP3 is a primary thought leader in the advertising client and agency space.

Darren Woolley, founder and Global CEO, along with Mike Morgan, are the driving force behind TrinityP3. To date, they have hundreds of blog posts covering a wide range of subjects including agency management, agency search, compensation, media buying, procurement, and scope of work and, even infographics. I’m talking lots of content.  Read More »

I Read The News Today, Oh Boy

The News Today

Stay with me on this post. The happiest part is at the end.

I live in Mexico. Split from Portland, Oregon in 2016. Nice to live in what is a happy country (despite the shitty press Mexico gets in the USA). By the way, Mexico’s inbound tourism is up.

Nice to earn a good living here. Nice cost of living.

Nicer to not be hammered by daily USA news. Today was particularly nuts.

Because of my move, I am often asked by my American agency clients about the how and why of my move down south.

To help… I am reposting my blog post Moving to Mexico. A super well-read post.

And, just because I do like going to a happy place, I offer the Beatles’ A Day In The Life.

“I read the news today, oh boy…”