Having choices can certainly be a good thing. But an overabundance of options carries its own set of challenges. Thom Browne, the American designer once said that: “When people have too many choices, they make bad choices.”
While an apt description of the $560 billion global advertising industry or not, the expansion and fragmentation of the advertising sector, fueled by rapid advances in technology has complicated things for many of the industry’s stakeholders. Consider the following:
- In addition to traditional TV, there are over 100 streaming services available in the U.S.
- According to Internet Live Stats, there are 1.7 billion websites on the worldwide web
- Fast Company estimates that there are over 525,000 active podcast shows
- Author Scott Brinker identified 7,040 MarTech solutions in his 2019 Marketing Tech Landscape
- Agency Spotter indicates that there are 120,000 ad agencies in the U.S., 500,000+ worldwide
- Inc. Magazine has identified 700,000 consulting firms across business functions globally
As the plethora of options have grown, so has the level of angst and uncertainty among marketing practitioners and suppliers alike. For an industry that has always prided itself on its ability to adapt to change, the current environment is somewhat unsettling.
Complicating things is the consumers growing disdain for advertising, which the New York Times profiled in a recent article entitled: “The Advertising Industry Has a Problem. People Hate Ads” in which it chronicles some of the attitudes and behaviors being exhibited by consumers that could have a profound impact on the industry. In the article, the Times referenced a recent report from Group M, which put forth the proposition that these are “dangerous days for advertisers.”
Let’s face it, there are few “tried and true” approaches that marketers can fall back on to guide their strategic and resource allocation decisions in this environment. Further, given the rate and rapidity of change from a legislative and technology perspective there are simply not that many industry guideposts to assist marketers in effectively charting a course forward or in evaluating progress.
While we believe that there will be a contraction in the supply chain, marked by a consolidation of agency brands, consulting firms, martech solutions providers and media outlets, we don’t believe that this suggests a return to simpler times.
To reduce the level of dissonance, marketers will likely seek to streamline their “world” by rightsizing their agency networks, clarifying roles and responsibilities among their suppliers, transitioning certain work in-house and taking a more considered and cautious approach to the adoption of “shiny new objects” whether related to technology or messaging options.
Given the continued focus by their C-Suite peers on marketing performance, CMOs will maintain a dual focus on driving revenues, while achieving efficiencies across their supply chain to boost working dollars as a percentage of total marketing spend. This is not an either/ or option. Recognizing this “reality” an advertiser’s agency and consulting partners can provide critical support by focusing on the identification of waypoints on the path to performance, rather than pursuing a grandiose focus on future-think outcomes. In the words of 17thcentury Japanese shogun leyasu Tokugawa:
“Let thy step be slow and steady, that thou stumble not.”