Karim Zarka

ArabAd - - COVER STORY -

From an in­dus­try per­spec­tive, ad­ver­tis­ing has really changed a lot. Agen­cies have some­how come full-cir­cle from the days when they of­fered 360-de­gree all-en­com­pass­ing ser­vices that in­cluded mar­ket­ing con­sul­tancy, cre­ative, PR and me­dia. Over the years, their roles have been con­tin­u­ously rede­fined and re­pur­posed as the in­dus­try it­self wit­nessed sev­eral par­a­digm shifts; and theirs has been a roller-coaster ride. In the old days, agen­cies pre­dom­i­nantly acted as part­ners that were highly in­vested in the client’s busi­ness; cre­ativ­ity was, first and fore­most, di­rectly tied into sales. Then, it took on a life of its own to be­come more mea­sured in its abil­ity to build brands and con­nec­tions with the end con­sumers. En­tered the era of the dig­i­tal boom that was marked with the rise of hot shops that highly frag­mented the in­dus­try into spe­cial­ized siloes and pres­sured multi­na­tion­als’ large oper­a­tions; fol­lowed fierce com­pe­ti­tion that was cen­tered on cost and bud­get cuts and an even tougher pe­riod in the af­ter­math of the 2008 fi­nan­cial cri­sis. This was cou­pled with the rise of dig­i­tal that promised in­creas­ingly gran­u­lar and pre­cise tar­get­ing and re-tar­get­ing of con­sumers; me­dia took over cre­ative ad­ver­tis­ing in some ways and the fo­cus was geared to­ward data and tech­nol­ogy. With all th­ese changes hav­ing shaped the in­dus­try, ad­ver­tis­ing is, to­day, much more com­plex than it used to be. The ad­ver­tis­ing land­scape in Qatar, for ex­am­ple, is evolv­ing rapidly with this global trend as dig­i­tal and tech­nol­ogy take over as a pre­ferred medium for ad­ver­tis­ers to spread their mes­sages. But nonethe­less, it re­mains cen­tered on peo­ple – a fact that many in the in­dus­try seem to side­line with tech­ni­cal jar­gon. What is more in­ter­est­ing is the next evo­lu­tion­ary stage with clients’ busi­nesses now be­ing chal­lenged by newer al­ter­na­tive mod­els. So, in more ways than one, ad­ver­tis­ing agen­cies are re­gain­ing their role as brand and busi­ness cus­to­di­ans.

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