In 2010, the CEO of an upstart digital agency was asked by the IAB to predict the future of advertising agencies and how they needed to adapt if they wanted to be around 10 years from now. Rather than give a eulogy, the thesis of that talk was that we were on the cusp of the golden age of advertising and that agencies could and should play a critical role in helping brands transform their marketing.
Well flash forward six years, and I’m reprising this talk at IAB Mixx during Advertising Week. Then as now, there was deep pessimism about the future of agencies and a clear implication that agency survival was an open question. Then as now, in spite of things being far from perfect, I am very bullish on the opportunity and need for agencies to play an essential leadership role in the future of marketing.
There is both peril and promise for everyone in this industry whether agencies, media owners or brands. In the last six years, consumer behavior has continued to change exponentially, to the point where two of the most dominant platforms — Instagram and Snapchat — didn’t even exist when I first visited this topic. And yet the infrastructure at most clients and agencies still feels heavily analog. Marketing, as a profession, is in real trouble if we keep letting consumers lap us.