Gone now are the days when agencies can simply deliver advertising or other media campaigns and let them run their course. Agencies must deliver on new forms of value in a complex, networked world.
The fictional ad man Don Draper is back for the seventh and final TV season of Mad Men, and what better time to talk about advertising and media-buying agencies - and how they fit in our media-saturated lives.
In the world of Don Draper, of course, it's the late 1960s on Madison Avenue, when advertising began to emphasize the experience, rather than the product (think, "Come Alive! You're the Pepsi Generation" from 1963). TV and print media were the two main channels to reach consumers. We had yet to see 140-word tweets or viral videos. And Harvard Business Review had yet to call the data scientist, "the sexist job of the 21st century."
So a better question might be, what hasn't changed? Advertisers, media-buyers, and marketing teams still need to have that creative edge to engage consumers. If anything, the necessity for creative relevance has never been more intense in the fierce competition for audience mindshare. In fact, Chris Tuff, senior vice president and director of Emerging Media and Partnerships at the independent advertising agency 22squared, believes, "Everything we put into this digital space needs to be a 'welcome intruder'....That means we need to improve content and take a less invasive path to targeting customers."
But in many other ways, similarities have faded. Gone now are the days when agencies can simply deliver advertising or other media campaigns and let them run their course. Agencies must deliver on new forms of value in a complex, networked world.
Think about it. In the years represented by Mad Men, TV and print media were the primary means to achieve what every advertising and marketing team wanted - awareness and reach. They were semi-autonomous channels, with little crossover impact. In contrast, companies today must orchestrate campaigns and allocate resources across traditional, online, social, and mobile channels, to accommodate consumers shopping in stores and on PCs, tablets, and smartphones. The channels are tightly interrelated. Brands speak, and consumers talk back. Influence is distributed across a global network of people with something to say, and many do so with online posts. Agencies need to choreograph campaigns in real time for the best performance for their clients, using the new analytics tools with power to query the data.
And on top of all that, there's social media democratizing access to vast numbers of people for those who can harness the power of virality. Consider how two Shakespearean actors - Sir Patrick Stewart (Star Trek: The Next Generation's Captain Jean-Luc Picard) and Sir Ian McKellen (Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies) - became social media sensations during the past six months. The two were in New York starring in the twin bill of Waiting for Godot and No Man's Land at the Cort Theater. In addition to a BuzzFeed video that went viral, the two actors came away with 600 million impressions on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (data from Shareablee), and became media cause célèbres in the process. The value of those impressions in traditional media buys is almost incalculable.
In this brave new world, how can agencies deliver more value to clients seeking high-impact and real-time results in audience awareness and customer conversion? More specifically, how do agencies take command of this flotilla of opportunities in paid, owned, and earned media?
Finally, there's a vital, if less obvious, role that agencies today play. We live in a time of extraordinary change with ever-growing computing power and data, as global connectedness accelerates. We continue to see emerging digital platforms. Today's advertising and media agencies may be among the best positioned to educate clients about options to achieve better results across all advertising platforms and media channels. And, that's an opportunity Don Draper certainly didn't have.
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Pelin Thorogood, a high-tech innovator and analytics executive, is chief strategy officer (CSO) of Ensighten, the global leader in omnichannel data and tag management. She also continues to serve as chief executive (CEO) of Anametrix, an Ensighten company. Pelin's career highlights include leading the go-to-market strategy as chief marketing officer (CMO) of WebSideStory (acquired by Omniture/Adobe), and extending Peregrine Systems' enterprise software business (acquired by HP) into Web-based applications as head of product marketing. She was named one of the "20 Women to Watch" in sales lead management in 2011 and 2012. Pelin holds a B.S. in Operations Research, Masters in Engineering, and MBA degrees, all from Cornell University, where she also serves as Executive-in-Residence for the Johnson Graduate School of Management. Follow Pelin on Twitter @PelinT.
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