Think back to your favorite commercial. Chances are, it’s recognizable, mass media TV commercial that you can recall from several years ago. And it was probably first conceived by a group of highly creative people in an advertising agency.
Historically, advertising agencies have excelled at generating entertaining, memorable content and getting it in front of large audiences. It’s a model that’s been built on decades of interrupting people with messages that they didn’t ask for, in places that they didn’t expect.
As you’ve probably noticed, history is changing. We’re fast-forwarding through ads on pre-recorded content, and we’ve trained our eyes and ears to ignore the advertising noise on the radio, in digital, and just about everywhere else.
Now think back to the last ad you saw. It probably wasn’t a 30-second TV commercial. It could have been a mobile ad at the bottom of your favorite app, or 15 seconds of pre-roll before you watched the latest celebrity music video on YouTube.
These days, we see more ads in a few hours online than we used to see in a day. And in some cases, we even seek out ads so we can share the brilliant ones with our friends. This model isn’t about interruption. It’s about connection. It’s about getting in front of the right person with the right content in the right place at the right time.
So what does that mean for today’s advertising model? It means that it’s time for a paradigm shift.
People consume content at lightning speed. It’s estimated that people see nearly 300 pieces of content every day. If your brand has any chance of being one of those – let alone one of the few that get shared – you don’t have time to waste.
Advertising agencies typically work in a phase of ‘creative development,’ where they come up with the ideas for your campaign. This phase can take anywhere from a day or two to several weeks. The problem is, by the time you finalize your ideas (which may still need fine-tuning), you have missed out on several days’ worth of chances to share content, and for your brand to capitalize on current events and trends.
Instead of waiting through the sometimes long cycles of concept development, production and distribution, you can use things like self-serviced advertising platforms and automation to streamline your process. Doing so means you’ll not only get your creatives out faster, you’ll also learn from it more quickly. You’ll be able to adapt your creative and continue to test elements in the same amount of time it would take to develop, produce, and distribute one ad through the traditional agency model.
Technology and data’s introduction into the world of advertising means that it’s much easier for anyone to become an advertiser. You no longer need huge marketing budgets, and while you used to need an agency to develop creative and find the right place for it, today we live in a world of real-time dialogue and bite-sized, continuous conversations. This world is built for a high volume of creative output.
Historically, agencies have been known for highly creative output, but not necessarily volume. If you’ve watched shows like Mad Men, you’ve seen how a team can work to sell a ‘big idea’ to a client.
Today, the best solution is usually lots of little ideas, rather than one big idea. Today, success is measured in the number of impressions and engagement you generate with people across a number of channels – channels which require different strategies and different types of content.
In the past, the agency model has extended into media buying and placement as well as creative development. Even further back in the past, it was done manually – a media buyer on the phone with several vendors or media outlets, negotiating and placing each piece of creative in a time-intensive process.
It’s truly amazing to think how far we have come. Marketing automation means we can quickly and efficiently target exactly who we want to be talking to. And we can do so dynamically, adjusting our inputs and reacting to new data as things change in real-time.
Automation means the difference between wasted resources and a highly efficient system which can guarantee your ads get to the right people, in the right places, at the point in time when they’re most likely to take action.
For a long time, data was a dirty word for creative people. It meant ideas would be killed because they’d be overanalyzed, subject to ROI and sales goals and sacrificing the more emotional side of communications.
That’s no longer the case. We’re learning that it’s possible to have both: to have an emotionally compelling ad that delivers on key performance indicators. We’ve also learned that we can subject creativity to data and analysis without sacrificing its core. But to do so, we have to give data a seat at the table – early and often.
The rise of digital and social media marketing is a perfect example of the time and place to use data to your advantage. A highly trackable environment, with easily adaptable formats, means you can develop creative specific to each channel and then continuously test and learn until you have a set of ads that’s targeting the right people, getting in front of them at the moment you’d most like them to engage with your brand.
Throughout history, we’ve evolved our way of doing business over and over. Advertising is no different. Technology has created platforms that now allow advertisers to own the entire process of ad campaign management. You even have the choice of letting automation do most of the work for you.
The benefits of removing the middleman and embracing the platform are significant — time and cost savings, more control over the process and better campaign performance. The paradigm shift has begun, don’t get left behind.