After that, I thought perhaps Google+ can bring order to the chaos of my Facebook and Twitter mess. Circles seem to more effectively allow me to sort out what Twitter’s lists didn’t necessarily do, and put more context around the hodge podge of friends that is my Facebook stream. But do I want to start over?
2 Simple Predictions for the Cynical, Time-Starved, Attention-Deficit, and Lover of Run-On Sentences (not to mention parenthetical phrases and/or statements) Ad Professional
As those in the know in the ad industry have been predicting the key things that will evolve, change or simply finally actually happen that probably should’ve happened years ago (I’ve heard this isn’t just the year of mobile, but the year of the confluence of mobile, social and experiential or something like that), I’m electing to take a more introspective, unvarnished look at us – we knowers of knowledge, trackers of trendy and paramours of prognostication. Allow me to guess how we, the ad professionals, will act in this new year…
We will be amazed (read: myopic) by seemingly profound and new (read: more or less slightly tweaked) hardware, software, applications, websites, and whatnot now coming into our collective consciousness. We will expound their virtues, rush to try them out, gush about paradigms shifting, and maybe even spend some of our own money to buy one or two of these things.
At some later point, we will demand accountability for all this stuff, stating that the time for exploration and “test and learn” is over, these things need to prove their worth. And we will demand that accountability at roughly the time we begin to hear what will be profound and new at CES 2012. Hey, it’s tough to hold the old stuff in your head when you need to free up space to be properly amazed by and have enough exhalations to use in describing all the new stuff.
We will have an epiphany that the buckets we classify media into shouldn’t be ever smaller based on new hardware that delivers media (Hey, where’s the Directorix of Advertising that Occurs on the Android Platform? She needs to connect with the Grand Poobah of Platforms that Show Up on Tablets and Other Things Like Computers but Aren’t!), but larger (or at least simpler) based on how people actually use media to get things done – seeing how what’s being delivered is probably video, sound and/or textual content of some sort.
Once had, said epiphany will quickly dissolve as we try to grok the meaning of a tablet that has most of the functionality of a mobile phone (not to mention being roughly the same size), a landline device that allows a person to text, and (GASP!) Internet that shows up on a TV screen. How do we deal with these things? Who can buy them? Who can create things for them? Who? Somebody get the Imperial Leader of Stuff That’s Never Been Done Before!
Advertising has become many things, but at its heart and on every level, it’s a people business.
Audiences aren’t collections of behaviors and mindsets that technology has allowed us to gather up and aim our work at. Audiences are people seeking to do things with their most scarce resource – their time. Our #1 goal should be to help them get those things done and our most important investment is in their time – something that will never be a commodity.
Clients aren’t a portfolio of investment opportunities that serve just to provide scale, leverage or clout. Clients are people who want to do what’s right by their various constituents – their customers, their shareholders, their employees – who are all people, too. If we act as partners in achieving our #1 goal, clients are happy people.
Media companies aren’t commodity traders looking to receive the dollars associated with leverage or clout. Media companies are stewards of people’s time. People choose to invest their time with media companies’ products and those choices become opportunities to invest client dollars to help people get things done – whether buying ads, building experiences or having conversations.
And those working in media at agencies – whether they use connections, communications, investment, activation or some other word to describe what they do – aren’t cogs in a machine facilitating leverage or clout via a portfolio of clients. Folks in media at agencies need to be laser-focused on delivering the intersection of what people are trying to do and how their client’s product or service helps those people get things done – whether that’s at scale or not.
Will technology take this industry in amazing new places that make markets operate more efficiently? Of course – I’ve been lucky enough to be close to a number of the people who have developed or are developing many of these tools. Will the need to report to bottom lines continue to increase? No doubt – and I much prefer managing a P&L vs. a budget. Am I excited about and engaged in the possibilities presented by these evolutions? Absolutely.
But of late, I’ve had many conversations with and messages from people who have been in this industry for a good amount of time, from all sides of the table – client, agency, sales – expressing disappointment in what has become of it. To be clear, these aren’t luddites pining for some golden age of three media to plan and buy and three martinis to have at lunch. These are smart people who have driven and thrived in dynamic media marketplaces.
What they want is something all people want. Not to be purveyors, receivers or shepherds of scale, leverage or clout. What they want is something encapsulated nicely by words from one of our founders, Judy Trabulsi, on the wall at the entrance to our media department at GSD&M Idea City:
The Value of Relationships and the Relationship of Values
For an industry in flux, it can be easy to lose sight of what’s important. For the players who put people and relationships first, great work – and even profits – will follow.
"New distribution of programming doesn’t run so well under old monetization systems. In the process of improving the infrastructure of media delivery, access providers and media companies did a short-sighted job of determining the value of the shifts in media usage that they caused by improving the infrastructure. They never developed a model that appropriately valued media usage that is more driven by people’s
schedules of desired use via two way cables than their schedules of distribution through one way cables.
So they are left to squabble over which antiquated levers and buttons they can pull and push to make a buck, ultimately, at the expense – in terms of money and, perhaps more importantly, time and convenience – of their most valuable assets: people who pay for access and are fans of programming (not pipes).
Kinda makes all the talk of “if the content is good, people will come” irrelevant, really. If the content is good and people come and no one makes sufficient money to produce more good content it really doesn’t matter."