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Four Thoughts About the Future of Advertising


This post was first published on October 2nd 2011 in The Huffington Post.

1.Advertising is entering a golden age. Despite all the hand-wringing about advertising, it is and will continue to be a booming industry. The advertising market is larger than it has ever been and it will continue to explode for a combination of reasons.

First, as the Internet empowers people, companies will truly have to embrace marketing, which according to Philip Kotler is “understanding and meeting people’s requirements.” Second, technology is allowing for not only better ways of targeting and measuring advertising but also new ways of telling stories or allowing people to tell stories. Third, Brands are growing more important in a fast-moving and cluttered world rather than less important. All of us are becoming brands ourselves. Finally, globalization is bringing hundreds of millions of people with desires and needs into the marketplace.

Advertising and Marketing are growth industries much more than Finance or Legal or so many other fields where the machines are automating high value work versus in our industry where machines are replacing low level work and allowing for far more opportunities for talented people.

We need to stop being pessimistic and embrace the amazing future that is being made available.

2. Think People, Think Mongrel, do not only Think Digital. Technology and digital platforms will play a critical role in the future of advertising. However successful people and agencies will not be “digital at the core” or “leading with digital” as the current slogans claim. Because so many agencies, clients and content companies were not paying attention to digital as it rose, they are now overcompensating by brandishing the digital lipstick aggressively.

The future will be about people and we should put people at the core. Because people are analog and we have feelings, hopes and desires, successful marketing will combine art and science, media and message, paid, owned and earned and a lot of combinations of the analog and digital world.

We are using social networks to connect with people. Mobility makes locations and real places more important since we now can go where we want and bring our technology assistants with us. In addition we are living in a world of networks, where connections and collaboration is increasingly important. The world is too complex and moving too fast for any one company or team to do it all. We need to train people who are cross-bred and hybrid and who are willing to work together.

The future of advertising will belong to mongrels and will be about people at the core.

3. The future of advertising will not fit in the containers of the past. Most market leaders in the Advertising Agency, Media Company and Marketer fields have been designed for the past. Our systems, incentive plans, organizational structures have been designed for the past.

We all embrace technology, push forth “digital announcements” but do not re-organize our companies in new ways, bring in new talent and actually incentivize the new behaviors that we all know are very important.

This allows new platforms, new companies and start-ups with fresh approaches to run circles around us.

Fortunately, many of us have woken up to see the importance of organizational re-design and approaches and are working to establish new partners, new ways of working across brands and attracting new talent.

Not all the leaders will make it through to the other side but those that do will run schizophrenic or hybrid models that deliver today and lead tomorrow.

Is your company addressing the hard changes or just believing embracing technology and digital talk will do the trick?

4. Change begins with us. There are only two ways to really change a company to get it ready for the future. Management can change people’s mindsets or they can change the people (though often its management itself that needs to be changed!)

To be successful stop complaining about change, or how other people or your company are not changing and address the real issue. Yourself.

Are you updating yourself? Are you investing in learning new skills and challenging your own legacy mindset?

In the end, the future of advertising and marketing is much less about technology and platforms and much more about the talent and the mindset in the industry.

It is about us.

We will re-invent our industry and truly embrace its amazing potential by re-inventing ourselves! ‘[tweetmeme source=”@rishadt” only_single=false]’

4 comments on “Four Thoughts About the Future of Advertising

  1. I find the way that advertising is evolving to be fascinating. Right now online advertising is huge (as well as traditional mass media). But there will come a time when people get bored with facebook and twitter and even blogging. Regardless of whether or not that every comes to pass, I still wonder whats on the horizon in the world of advertising.

  2. asit says:

    Rishad, Great thoughts. I wonder though why you refer to it as future of “advertising”. We should be talking about the future of “marketing” when everyone is a brand and there is a profitable market/segment of 1 to serve with the long tail effect. This is one of the big issues with the advertising industry. Run by people who are like legacy systems. Not many who are ready to re-boot and learn a new language.

  3. Hi Rishad,

    Great chatting with you at the ThinkLA Trends Breakfast in Los Angeles. I am curious, do you believe the future of the “second screen companion” lies more in the hands of content creators such as FOX, NBC, ESPN by creating unique experiences via broadcast, online, mobile, tablet, etc. or with publishers such as EW, Huffington Post by creating a platform for users to connect/communicate with one another along with influential editors/talent?

    Thank you,

  4. I agree with you quite a lot. Despite I’m working for one of those agencies labeled as “digital at the core”, and leading the current revolution; I’m still persuaded that technological change is only a mean, and a behavioural enabler. Personal and social dynamics, which are underlying to our real selves, have been formed in decades and centuries of behavioural evolution. Digital media are only rephasing the way people communicate and learn, but it still is communicating and learning. Advertising is talking to people, irrespectively of the channel we use; if we forget this, or overstimate the weight of digital tools, we’ll be seriously flawed.

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