While no one would argue that New York is still the center of the advertising world and that the advertising industry is white-hot right now, the "Mad Men" days are long gone. The era of the "three-martini lunch" has never felt more antiquated as companies with technology acumen have taken over, redefining the parameters of advertising.
A vast array of advertising technology companies have gained traction in the past few years, offering everything from cross-device advertising and retargeting to real-time bidding. These companies are ushering in a new age of advertising where businesses have the power to select exactly where they want their ads to appear at the price they want, then measure the success of their ad campaigns as they are happening so they can make any tweaks in real-time.
These technological advances also mean that today's companies compete with seemingly endless distractions from other devices. A recent IAB report found that multi-screen viewing is the new normal and that 78 percent of U.S. adults who watch TV are also using another device such as a smartphone at the same time.
The relentless pace of technology has also dramatically changed the role of ad agencies, who are struggling to fully understand digital's capabilities. In order to keep up, they must completely change the way they operate and embrace new ideas, including:
Hiring employees that understand the new technologies
A lot of ad agencies are perceived as "dinosaurs" because they haven't escaped the old way of doing things and haven't adopted new technologies. Many of their employees have been at the same agency for years and haven't mastered the "ins and outs" of the new digital advertising landscape. In order to adapt to the digital era, agencies must seek to hire people with in-depth knowledge of digital advertising and a mentality that allows for flexibility, openness to new technology, and a drive to constantly improve ad campaigns. Applying agile methodologies, which focus on achieving small, measurable goals in a short amount of time, to advertising/marketing is also gaining traction, so it would be beneficial to hire employees comfortable with this fast paced, innovative approach. Developing and executing campaigns in a more agile, dynamic manner will result in more relevant ads and better overall results. As ad spend on digital continues to rise each year, agencies must increase their skillsets to adapt to and master digital advertising's capabilities if they want to capture a piece of this crucial market.
Tailoring ads by audience
Agencies are still focusing on "one big idea" for their ad campaigns. However, today's audiences have become increasingly diverse and a generic blanket message will not have the same impact from one group to another. Before jumping in, agencies need to first take a step back to identify and understand the nuances between the different audience segments. They must determine the key messages that resonate with each group and recognize that they won't always be the same. Then, they can take that information to personalize their messages to each audience for maximum engagement instead of taking the much less effective "one size fits all" approach. While the initial research and message tailoring may take a little more time, it will result in a more successful campaign in the end.
Personalizing by platform
With multiscreen viewing at an all-time high, only advertising on one platform or reusing the same ad on multiple platforms will not cut it. An ad that might work well on TV would offer no personal interaction on a mobile phone, while a static print ad would bore audiences viewing the ad while watching TV. Ad agencies must now develop different advertisements tailored to each platform, whether it be for TV, radio, print, mobile, or tablet so audiences receive the most relevant messages at the right time in the most engaging way. Audiences' attention spans are becoming shorter, so the ads that consumers see have to make the most of the viewing platform and must stimulate in order to keep their interest.
Advertisers are getting savvier, the technology is getting smarter and agencies need to keep up to remain relevant. The acceleration of change that technology has brought to the advertising landscape has completely revolutionized the industry. The traditional methods of advertising have become outdated. Speed has become the name of the game as decisions must be made in real-time that can impact the failure or success of a campaign.
Agencies may be facing an uphill battle at the moment as they're being challenged to use and understand these new technologies. But, if they are open to the fact that they need to fundamentally shift their business models and become more agile to keep up with these digital changes, then they will be taking a big step forward in remaining competitive in this ever-changing, lightning-fast market.