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Predicting the Future of Advertising Agencies

Anyone who is trying to break into the advertising industry right now (hey, that’s me!) is probably wishing they had a ‘back to the future’ button.

It’s starting to seem like no matter how quickly you process information about advertising, it becomes irrelevant before you’re able to put it to use.

So are you getting yourself into something that is like quicksand, something that will backfire on you before you can say inbound marketing?

Well, anything you get yourself into can backfire on you, but knowing what is going on and what to expect will help you immensely. Check out our own ‘back to the future button’ about what to expect and plan on for the advertising agency of the future.

Agencies as Educators

Know what you’re doing. Seems simple, right? Apparently not for everyone. In order to be successful, it’s vital to understand advertising and be experts in the field.

But this isn’t enough. Agencies must also be sure to know how to articulately explain and present what they know to create credibility in the industry.

Anybody can find out pretty much anything they want online nowadays, and usually for free. We are in the age of Google-worshippers. Embrace it, and make your agency part of it.

Chances are that whatever secret advertising formula you think your company owns, someone else knows about it too. And chances are (if they’re a smart agency), they put it online for everyone (ahem, potential clients) to read.

It’s important that agencies are not only making their services searchable, but making the content and information they publicize searchable as well. By doing this, you can create strong credibility (AKA street cred) for your agency.

How important is this, you ask? Well, when was the last time you hired someone to do something for you when their website said they could fix your kitchen sink but provided you information about how to fix a car… Oh, never? Okay.

Create content and publish it online. Show potential clients what you know, and they’ll be more likely to hire you to do it for them. Education is the past, present and future, ladies and gentleman, so learn it and live it.

Converting to Digital

LE DUH. The digital days are here folks, and if you haven’t yet converted, you probably are already neck-deep in quicksand. Which means someone is holding up a laptop for you to read this. Which probably means they too, are sinking.

Like I said, traditional advertising is not necessarily dead. However, electronic advertising is more alive than ever.

Even the oldest, most traditional of companies likely won’t hire an ad agency that doesn’t have some presence in and knowledge of the digital world. In fact, that’s why most of them are hiring a digital marketing agency – they need help!

Consider hiring a Chief Digital Officer, or adding a new position like that. It’s a great way to set one person in charge of a vital part of the agency. Be sure it’s not just a one person team, though.

In order for a digital sector of an agency to be successful, there needs to be a substantial team on board, if not all members of the agency. Having a CDO will just help optimize the decision-making and communications process. Having the team will create an effective way to pump out the digital ideas and content.

Becoming Specialized Experts

Traditional agencies on Madison Ave. used to work on a do-it-all and all-at-once strategy. This just isn’t the case for future agencies.

First off, this industry is changing so rapidly that it’s nearly impossible to keep up with all of the new and different options being added to social media, the Internet, and content marketing every day.

Instead of trying to do it all, consider choosing to do one or two things and then focus on becoming the best at it. It will keep your business focused, and will increase your credibility to potential clients.

Secondly, why would you keep delegating employees to try to keep up, when you could hire someone whose job already is to keep up with these trends?

Bringing in experts in on a per project or per client basis is the future. You may not need a full time inbound marketing person (but if you do, I know a guy), but you may need them for a certain project. Same goes for different social media, traditional and other electronic ventures.

Just hire them when you need them! The future here lies in partnerships.

Pulling vs. Pushing

Who doesn’t love those YouTube ads you have to sit through for 30 seconds before you can watch the new Justin Bieber music video? And those glamorous Banner Ads on your favorite website? Winning, right?! I know. They’re annoying, and usually not very effective.

So slow down on the pushing and start pulling.

I’m not implying that the industry of push advertising is completely dead, because it isn’t. Some industries and fields still require it, and will for years to come. But the modern advertising agency will be pulling, so get used to it.

Online is omnipresent. The importance of brand presence on social media, digital communities and the like is vital today. It’s pretty obvious. I don’t remember the last time I decided to try a new place that didn’t have some sort of web platform I could check out, maybe even some Google reviews?

So put yourself out there! Demonstrate the importance of pull advertising. With so many options out there today, consumers are overwhelmed. It’s no longer their job to find you, but your job to find them. Genius, I know.

Taking the Reigns on CRM

Customer relationship management (CRM) will still be present in the future of advertising agencies. OMG FOR REAL? Surprise surprise.

Although, practicing good CRM will be a little different. This explanation is twofold.

Future advertising agencies will deal with CRM in a digital way. While they are designing, creating and optimizing different electronic advertising platforms for their clients, they will also be teaching them the inner-workings of these platforms.

This way, clients will understand and be able to use these platforms on their own. Why would agencies want clients to be able to take the reigns and control something that they could be paying them more for? This goes into the second part of my answer.

Agencies can absolutely design, create and optimize these platforms. But they just can’t interact and maintain great CRM between clients and their potential consumers in the same way their clients would be able to. Because an agency specializes in advertising and not in whatever it is their client specializes in, they can’t interact with potential clients in a way that will optimize conversion.

By teaching clients how to maintain great CRM via the platforms you have created for them, they will help you in optimizing results and increasing conversion rates, which is great for them and better for you. Better results = better data, better data = better showing, better showing = more clients for your agency.

Lead by Example

Practice what you preach. I shouldn’t have to even explain this, but I will.

If you advise a client to blog, you should also be blogging. If you tell them they need a Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, you should have all three as well. They need an optimized, well-designed website? Well, make sure yours is up to par.

An agency’s portfolio of client work is important, but don’t you think clients will take notice of how well you take care of your own web-identity?

Kind of like I said in the suggestion above, by setting yourself apart as an expert or leader in your field, it shows how well you know what you’re doing. Make this clear.

If your agency has a great blog, social media presence or user-friendly website, a client is going to be more likely to hire you to create one of these things for them. This is kind of a remix on another age-old lesson: treat yourself how you want your clients to be treated. Good, right? You can quote me on your website, no problem.

Data Measurement and Comprehension

I fought my high school calculus teacher to death on this, but unfortunately, math is, in fact, the future. Sigh.

One of the great things about the future of advertising is how measurable the results can be. Traditional advertising results are difficult, if not impossible, to measure.

With electronic advertising, we can measure clicks, read-throughs, conversion rates – the list goes on and on. Now, you can tell if what you’re doing is working. More importantly for your client, they can tell if what they’re paying for is working.

By being able to clearly measure and present results to clients, it demonstrates high-level comprehension. You know what you’re doing, and you have something to show for it.

And for all your math-illiterate folks out there (we should really consider starting a support group), platorms such as HubSpot, Moz, and Wochit, that analyze and present data in a way that makes it easier to understand and put to use.

Analytics is the super power of the future of advertising. Make it part of your agency.

There it is, the future of the ad agency at your fingertips. Why haven’t you been taught this before? No one who is actually succeeding in this industry is sure of that answer.

While so many people today are trying to sell the idea that advertising is dead, that is simply not the truth. Advertising isn’t dead, and probably never will be. Instead, it is evolving with the times, and the agencies who aren’t evolving with it (really even a step ahead of it all) are what is dying.

Take these ideas into your next job interview or networking event, people will be impressed with your knowledge of where Madison Avenue is going.

Are you also psychic? What else do you think will characterize the future advertising agency? Comment and let us know.

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