The Golden Age of Advertising infographic in this post inspired us to ask some of our industry friends for their thoughts about what has changed in the advertising world over the past 40 years, and what the future holds for the advertising business. Most of our commenters think the lines between content and advertising have irrevocably blurred. Marketers are content creators and publishers are increasingly like agencies. Audiences, too, play an active role now, from debunking false claims to spreading the word about great brands. Doug Weaver goes so far as to say advertising is dead, but we’re in a golden age of marketing. In considering what’s changed between the 1960’s of TV’s Mad Men to today, the trend is from homogeneity to heterogeneity in everything: one big idea to sophisticated multimedia strategies; greater diversity of the agency staff; the plethora of media today’s marketers have to consider. And our experts agree that agencies were never so much agents of cultural change as mirrors that reflect the cultural shifting around them. Jump down below the infographic to read all the insights from our industry VIPs. We think it’s a pretty fascinating discussion and we invite you to use the comments section to continue it. We typically moderate comments, so please be patient if your comment doesn’t appear instantly.
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We sent the infographic above to a number of VIPs and asked for their thoughts on some key questions raised by the content: WHAT ARE SOME KEY TRENDS IN THIS, THE NEW GOLDEN AGE OF ADVERTISING? “There are a few: Media isn't an afterthought; Science is being added to art; Artists learning and practicing science.” Jerry Shereshewsky, GrownUpMarketing "Biggest trend: The marketer as content publisher. . . Curating and creating content for search optimization and social media are now crucial components of an online marketing platform. No longer can we buy ads in someone else's content, we must be the content creators to have a voice in the digital domain, which frankly, for most brands, is where the war is won in the 21st century." Susan Bratton, CEO, Personal Life Media, Inc. "One of the biggest trends is location and mobile…mobile devices (phones, tablets) are becoming the dominant device for consuming content and advertising. And everything on that device – from SMS alerts and ads you receive, to local search to your contacts and social activities – all will be made relevant for where a consumer is and when they are there." Alistair Goodman, 1020 Placecast “Scale and Content are making a comeback. While Data is important, the ability for common content providers to finally deliver scale of their audience and facilitate media buying will be a huge factor for more dollars to shift online. Data will increase value for ‘performance’ focused media but content will regain its place as the focus for advertisers. Our online world will be represented by major networks, just like TV/Cable. More publishers will bring "agency" type functions internal to their organizations. Larger Publishers are going to leverage their scale and utilize their internal agency ability for custom engagements. The acceleration of "exchange driven" media buying will transform our industry forever but will also create numerous opportunities for those collaborate publishers that blend content with advertising.” Chris Hanburger, aiMatch “Publishers MUST diversify and actually become marketers. Conde Nast CEO recently said that they were revamping their strategy. Selling advertising was only one revenue stream...and they wanted to grab more money from their relationships thru e-commerce initiatives. This was smart as they are moving from just a media owner to a marketer. You will see more and more publishers doing the same as the line continues to blur. American Greetings started a content e-zine yesterday. Actually it was pretty good.” Jaffer Ali, Founder, Vidsense “It's arguably now easier for a retailer or brand to monetize content than a publisher. Probably not true (yet) of broadcasters. But, the cost of producing and distributing content has effectively fallen to zero. If marketers want to gain people's attention, they have to say something worth hearing. Most marketers do not yet understand this. Most still operate from the mistaken assumption that attention is a commodity that can be bought. As Alvin Toffler said in Rethinking the Future, ‘The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.’ There is a lot of illiteracy in marketing today.” Tom Cunniff, Combe Incorporated “Advertising has fundamentally changed well beyond the obviousness of media fragmentation. Audiences are more experienced with advertising messages and have greater access to information, which has provided them with a healthy skepticism. It is no longer sufficient to say ‘new and improved’ because consumers have real-time access to determine if products truly are new and truly are improved. This healthy skepticism is even more powerful given that consumers have the ability to share their opinions at an exponential rate and while this may seem scary on the surface, it is also quite compelling if you are a company with great products and a focused message — earned media is real and it is powerful. Brands can no longer preach from the hilltop about themselves. There are too many ways for audiences to tune out the message or simply ‘call bullshit.’ The message now should be customized for more granular audiences and should reach them in more targeted, honest and authentic ways. That’s not to say that a core brand message and broadcast advertising are completely antiquated, it’s just that they are diminished in importance.” Jeff Rosenblum, founding partner of Questus “I believe the ‘advertising’ era – golden or not – is in its last days if it hasn’t expired already. The term advertising has come to represent everything consumers don’t want and marketers don’t value. These are the golden days of marketing, however, but it’s unclear which players will effectively drive this era. The breakthrough will come when someone switches on the light and everybody realizes their stuff is gone and they don’t know where their cars are parked. Change has already happened; it’s the realization that always lags. And will when the next wave of change comes, too. The role of the media owner, media aggregator (network), agency and marketer will continue to blur. The agency as we know it feels the most downward pressure during this era.” Doug Weaver, Founder, Upstream Group WHAT ARE SOME MAJOR DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE AD WORLD OF THE 60s AND TODAY? "Until the dawn of the internet as a medium, advertising was centered on ‘the big idea’; a few words or an image that was incredibly memorable, certainly intrusive and that had the chance of becoming vernacular (still true to a degree, WazzUp as an example). But doing great 'advertising' today goes far, far beyond the big idea. You need one, of course, but you also need an entire ecosystem that includes sub-species like a Facebook and YouTube strategy, your ability to respond to emailed customer inquiries in internet time, your ability to create and activate brand ambassadors and a whole lot more. It also requires a way more sophisticated understanding of the variety of media available and how to maximize the impact and value of each." Jerry Shereshewsky, GrownUpMarketing “Perhaps the biggest change is in the people that develop advertisements. In previous generations, agencies were incredibly homogeneous. Women were kept below a very low glass ceiling, which literally cut the talent pool in half. Now, great agencies thrive on diversity. Also important is the overall structure. The private office environment of the characters in Mad Men serves as a great metaphor for the way that agencies operated — silo’d and separated. Now, the lines between technology, insights, media and creative are blurred. Great ideas can come from anywhere and great results come from building synergies across disciplines.” Jeff Rosenblum, founding partner of Questus “Biggest difference is the fragmentation of media outlets and the shift in media consumption patterns. In the 60’s you basically had only a few mediums to reach consumers: Newspapers, TV, Magazines, Radio, Outdoor, Yellow Pages and Direct Mail… Now think about today: according to Piper Jaffrey (The User Revolution) there are over 60 different ways that consumers now consume content – with newbies like Twitter and Facebook achieving the equivalent reach of TV in less than 5 years! (It took TV 38 years to get to 150 million users).” Alistair Goodman, 1020 Placecast “The whole reason we love Mad Men is that it’s historic and represents all those things we can no longer do– drink martinis at lunch, philander, smoke, drive without seatbelts and channel creative ideas into a fixed and constrained media landscape. The 1960s may as well be the 1760s for all the relevance they have to what we do today.” Doug Weaver, Founder, Upstream Group WERE AGENCIES EVER OR ARE THEY NOW AGENTS OF CULTURAL CHANGE? “I don't think they ever were at the leading edge of cultural anything. They were always reflective of the world in which they lived. They had to be. Making a brand incomprehensible to the audience offers no value to anyone (except perhaps a production company).” Jerry Shereshewsky, GrownUpMarketing “I don’t believe agencies have ever driven culture. The best creatives have always been those most sensitive to the cultural shifts and the quickest to hold a mirror up to them. And in case we haven’t noticed, some of the best and brightest agency creative minds are leaving the agency model behind because they find it too constraining. Alex Bogusky, for one, is voting on that question with his feet.” Doug Weaver, Founder, Upstream Group