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Future In Rewind Mode

The media & advertising industry itself might undergo major transformation. You don’t need a pundit to tell you that future is unpredictable

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As media and advertising professionals, ‘future’ is an area we must deal with constantly. People like me, with three decades in this industry, have been witness to static and voice transition into video, passive becoming interactive and relevant data transforming to data relevant.

However, while all this was taking place, I have also witnessed drastically changing business models, expertise fragmentation, rise of platforms, boutique agencies creating disruptions, value for costs and much more, in an industry that is driven by ideas and people.

All being said, the industry has lost much of its sheen. The impact is visible, and it needs course correction. We have lost the best of talent to other industries; we have a reluctant new bunch joining us, we are fighting for margins thereby stretching to invest for the future. We have not been able to manage perceptions the way we should and put a premium to the expertise we bring to the table; something that ironically used to be our USP in the past.

While at it, let us also look at the threats that exist. Newer players are more nimble; they are building their businesses with a clear differentiation, challenging the conventional. Having created value, the consulting firms, tech giants and audit firms are planning end-to-end models. Innovative tech companies with marketing automation tools are managing to take away decent portion of the marketing budgets. And finally, platforms are building units to become self-serving avenues.

It might seem that I am alluding to a bleak future. We need to take a hard look at ourselves, and look back at reasons leading to why it is what it is today. It will be good to look at measures that will help us stay relevant in our future. And these seem imminent possibilities:

* Agency networks may be acquired by consulting & tech firms.
* Mergers of management structures and holding companies.
* Every country will become a market on its own; following common best practices and creating value.
* Geographies will define economies of scale.
* Technology will pretty much take over a lot of roles.
* From consulting to deployment to delivery to audit; all under one roof
* Most media will become biddable and rates will be defined by absolute numbers and consumption audiences.

The media & advertising industry itself might undergo major transformation. You don’t need a pundit to tell you that future is unpredictable. For all you know, we may be headed into a host of other changes as well. The power of collective or the regrouping of all services, building more accountability, scale and flexibility much like before, is among them.

There is also the adoption of marketing automation because speed is of the essence and real-time is the norm. We will see retention of the core, where agencies will invest in its core expertise to bring back the old flamboyance. While systems and technologies will balance the operational costs.

The rise of algorithms may be on the cards too. Agencies will play to their strength and data will be used to pre-empt possibilities. Gut feel will get validated, but will remain the hero. In business transformation, communications will be integral to the cause.

It is said that change is the only constant. It is up to us to just accept it or to impact it. Sometimes answers to the future lie in the past. The future, I believe, is in a rewind mode.

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.


Harish Shriyan

The author is CEO, Omnicom Media Group

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