The new agency mindset

By Louis Eksteen


By next year this time I believe advertising agencies will be using the word “marketing” a lot more generously. The new connected digital world means advertising and marketing have never been closer. In the old days a real distinction existed between advertising as a sub discipline to the larger, more encompassing marketing function.

The connected world is changing that.

Here are five ways agencies are adapting to a new modern marketing paradigm:

1. Technology takes centre stage

For all the talk about big data, few agencies have a true technological mindset. Creative directors are viewed as superior to, well, basically everyone else. It’s time, though, for the chief software engineer to sit alongside the chief creative officer to ensure creativity in technology.

I’m not talking about “IT” here. Software development with a marketing application is playing an ever more important role. That’s why many agencies are increasingly talking to the developers at Google, Facebook and Twitter and not to the media sales executives at The New York Times or Condé Nast.

2. More editorial, less advertising

Agencies have flirted with hiring editorial talent before, but mainly forced an advertising copywriting demeanour upon these long-form writers. But with content marketing becoming such a powerful force in the digital era, agencies should re-consider hiring editorial minds for advertising. A better strategy is to hire editorial talent to create brand content, for a fuller version of what marketing means today.

3. Hybrid marketing

With technology in play, agencies are up-skilling to be able to converse in the new language of marketing, which is all about cross-platform, or simply hybrid marketing. We’re in a phase of marketing development when multiple disciplines are again housed in the same agency in a reversal of the decentralised and specialist era.

Clients now want to talk apps, inbound content marketing and internet video in the same breath as programmatic buying and marketing automation. If the traditional agencies cannot cope with hybrid marketing requirements, there are many modern agencies that can.

4. Ideas are not that special anymore

Sure, a great concept for an “ad” can work wonders. This hasn’t changed. But in an era when a grumpy cat can pull in serious attention and marketing notoriety, the traditional advertising model is surely changing fast.

The phenomenon of some Instagram successes is another example of agencies and traditional media being impacted from unexpected corners of the interwebs. This truly is a new age of interaction and transaction, for everyone.

5. Be real

Faking it is less relevant today than ever. Sure, scams can still rule the online universe, depending on where you look, but today openness and true transparency are valued above all else. Advertising ideas that do not resonate in a real sense, or are not obviously over-the-top in a meme sense, are being replaced by real people doing real marketing.

Contributing to this is the fact that consumers have never been more marketing savvy. Everyone now has the recipe of the secret sauce.