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A Time To Change

At the heart of the marketing revolution is all the data that we now have at our fingertips — as it has often been said data is the new oil

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As the 80’s hit song by Timbuk 3 goes ‘The future’s so bright we’ve got to wear shades’, in the advertising, marketing and communications industry one could easily believe that to be true.

With the advent of IP delivered programmatic, dynamic creative, artificial intelligence, voice search, virtual reality, augmented reality and the likes, which provide the ability to personally target individuals at scale, should herald an epoch making opportunity for the industry. However, far from it being seen as a time for confidence, it is actually proving to be a period of consternation for marketers and agencies alike.

At the heart of the marketing revolution is all the data that we now have at our fingertips — as it has often been said data is the new oil. But that in itself represents a problem because most organisations are swamped with information and are actually stymied because of it.

According to a recent Forrester study we have actually breached the point of ‘peak data’ so that most of the information collected by a company cannot actually be processed, analyzed and acted upon. The report estimates that anything between 60 per cent to 73 per cent of all the data, that is currently collected, is never used for any strategic purpose.

It’s not like the situation is going to get any less complicated in the way forward, particularly with the new GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) legislation which comes into effect on May 25, 2018, affecting data privacy laws across 28 countries. Unsurprisingly, many organisations are sweating about the changes because of concerns over precisely what customer data they can legally retain and use. The ramifications of getting it wrong are severe with fears over compliance, confusion over what it means specifically to their business and the scary prospect of hefty financial fines if they get it wrong.

As a consequence of these seismic changes in the industry, clients are asking for a total re-evaluation of the agency model to reflect a dynamic new future. One of the most vocal on this subject is Marc Pritchard, Chief Growth & Brand Officer for the world’s biggest advertiser, Procter & Gamble.

Pritchard talks about how the ‘Mad Men’ generation of agencies morphed into the publicly-held financial conglomerates, the advertising holding companies who unbundled their offerings, most notably media. He has made it very clear that he wants agencies to put their offerings back together again although it’s clear we can’t just simply put the proverbial toothpaste back in the tube. His message though is unambiguous in any way — he will pay for creativity and for what creates value with the consumer plus he wants agencies to simplify their offerings — ‘de-layer, un-silo, harmonise’. And as part of his master plan he has already announced that he intends to cut P&G’s roster of agencies from around 6,000 to more like 1,250.

Carlos Ghosn, the Chairman and CEO of Renault Nissan Mitsubishi, said recently that the automotive industry will change more in the next five years than it has in the last 30 years.

I would draw a similar analogy for the advertising community — as technology and data increasingly become the drivers of the business, I believe that next decade will witness more reconstruction and reorganisation than in the last 50 years. As an industry, and given our own sense of where we have come from, thriving in every situation that has come our way, I believe we will make changes for the better. And the time to start making those changes? Right here, and right now.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


Steve Blakeman

Steve Blakeman is the Managing Director - Global Accounts, OMD Europe

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