Ten industry trends from the ADFORUM Worldwide Summit
Twice a year, Adforum invites agencies CEOS and leadership teams in private meetings to share their vision, strategies, agency news and key corporate messages, to articulate "the view from the top" to the world’s leading agency search and management consultants drawn from around the world. The most recent gathering, an invitation-only Adforum Worldwide Summit, took place in New York from October 5-9. It brought together 30 agency search consultants with 23 agency CEOS and leadership teams from all disciplines. Here’s a summary of the trends that emerged when they got talking.
Maturity and Normalisation
Creative agencies have digested the digital revolution. Once seen as out of step, they have reconfigured, re-emerged and regained control. Ironically, given the primacy of content, many digital agencies have now strayed onto the territory of the creative networks. The remaining digital agencies are becoming more specialised than ever.
From Silos to Specialism
But the integrated model won’t look like it did before: agencies have developed new structures in order to stay “agile and nimble”. Whatever the buzzword, it comes down to making sure teams are multi-disciplinary, reactive and flexible.
From Big Data to Smart Data
As data continues to transform the industry, including in the area of performance accountability, there is a shift from data mining towards data interpretation that leads to action. Data and ideas should work in tandem. Real-time marketing is on the increase and smart metrics are seen as a driver of efficiency.
Many agencies at the Summit referred to their involvement in developing products (“DO” instead of “TELL”). They are adopting a product-first approach to the customer, as the product and the related experience are more important than the advertising. Design a good product, then work on building the relationship.
Iterative and Real-time Marketing
Thanks to smart use of data, campaigns can “learn” in real time and adapt to consumer responses as if they’re living, breathing things. Missteps can be corrected and messages subtly retuned.
Re-bundling Communication Services
Increased complexity is stimulating the integration of agency services. Clients want simplicity and the ghost of “full service” is hovering. Both media and production are being taken back inside agencies as they adapt content for social integration, experiential and enhanced engagement. This could spell trouble for the media agencies.
Technology is Not an Attribute
Digital is now everyone’s focus. In fact it’s the new normal, so digital agencies are finding it hard to differentiate themselves. The game now is in the way you apply the principles of digital. Technology isn’t everything – you need more.
It’s About Business, Not Just Communications
Agencies are heading back for the client boardroom as they evolve into consultancies. As a result, they are meeting a larger set of competitors. Nonetheless, they see their goal as “solving any business issue” – not just those that require an advertising response.
The Return of Emotionally-grounded Creative
While in previous years agencies fought to prove their efficiency through complex web tactics supported by an avalanche of Views and Likes, we are witnessing the return of simple heartbreaking stories. This may reflect a perceived need for brands to be “authentic”.
Collaborate, Don’t Brief
Real time marketing and the new silo-free structure leave little room for the conventional brief. Instead, both client and agency are developing a collaborative approach to work processes. Today’s multiplatform environment requires an on-going partnership rather than a campaign over a fixed period.