Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The next marketing supercontinent

The Pangea Theory tells us that all land used to be consolidated in one giant mass. Over centuries different pieces broke off and shifted into what are now the disparate continents. Some scientists believe that in time all land could join back up and form a sort of Pangea 2.0, or supercontinent.

The same trend seems to be happening in advertising.

As media behavior evolved into disparate channels so did agency offerings - digital, CRM, activation, PR disbundled from traditional creative and were, in many multinational cases, given their own brand or company names. But as clients discovered new agencies in each discipline they began to split billings and revenues.

This has become a critical issue for mainstream agencies, as marketing budgets are slowly but surely shifting to digital and other non-traditional channels. In certain categories (B2B ones for example) it is possible to skip TV altogether and focus completely on digital and PR. As non-traditional momentum grows, agencies must watch the back door and ensure that budgets are secure even if priorities shift out of ATL channels.

The answer seems to be the industry's latest buzzword: Integration. 

This idea is not new. Media agencies and marketing plans have been "360" for several decades. Our discipline itself is often called Integrated Marketing Communications. Several marketing books, including one I recently revisited, talked about Integration of mainstream advertising with digital as early as in 2003. Yet in the Philippines and even across Asia, silos are still the norm.

It seems inevitable that agency offerings will shift to accommodate the entire consumer journey in order to retain end-to-end client business. Is the next wave of ad agency organizational development going to lead us to Marketing Pangea 2.0?

As this happens agencies must figure out as a starting point -What exactly must be integrated?

Three potential models:
  • PEOPLE:  Everybody in the agency (planning, account, creative) knows enough about each discipline to be able to do the work for any channel.
    My take: Not realistic - are there enough people like this to fill an agency?
  • PROCESS:  Different disciplines, different specialists, who work all together, all the time, on every project, to collaboratively create complementary pieces of the final output.
    My take: Maybe not the most efficient model.
  • PRODUCT:  May be led by any discipline but output represents a holistic consumer experience, ideally moving beyond "same idea across touchpoints" to pre-idea vector planning.
    My take: My preference. Probably because I'm specialist-biased. More on this in another entry because it would take an entire other entry.
It will be exciting to track these developments and see what exactly the advertising integrated supercontinent will shape up to become. The game is changing and the agency that figures this out first could end up winner of the Integration land rush. And who's to say this won't end up a non-traditional agency?


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