The Future of Advertising is…..limited?

Posted on March 3, 2016

‘The Advertising Industrial Complex has come to an end.’

Ten years ago I was asked to speak at the Periodical Publishers Association annual conference. My subject was ‘advertising’ and, in line with all conferences the World over, was title of the speech was to be preceded by ‘The Future Of..’  (It is a tradition or an old charter or something that states all conferences must have a session titled this way. That, and another called ‘The View From The Top..’).

Anyway, raising my visionary binoculars, I felt I saw a future of advertising where brands would not simply lurch toward digital (as most of my magazine publishing audience feared) but rather, choose to make more considered, distributed use of marketing dollars in executing integrated campaigns. Campaigns that exploit the best attributes of all available media. It was not a particularly radical view, but one that I felt made perfect sense.

I cited Sony’s Bravia campaign as a fantastic example of a truly integrated campaign. It really was an amazing undertaking. The beautiful TV ad, which first aired at half time between Manchester United and Chelsea on Sky Sports and occupied the entire ad slot, was accompanied by exclusive behind-the-scenes content only available online. A blogging campaign attracted more than 1.8 million ad views. Printed inserts, which the Direct Marketing Association proudly showcased, were used in the national press and, in an exclusive deal with the Independent newspaper, Sony sponsored the entire technology section of the Independent On Sunday Magazine.

Sony Bravia TV’s sold out within the first three weeks of the campaign.

A decade after, and my prediction of the future of advertising has been comprehensively debunked. I’ll take it on the chin. After all, I suspect 10 years ago, no-one would have predicted the future of advertising would be, well….limited.

In fact, according to Scott Galloway, Professor of advertising at NYU, advertising (in the traditional sense) is finished. So where are the dollars being spent? Facebook and Google. Take a look at magazines: In 2006, magazine ad revenue was at $19bn. A little-known dating platform called Facebook was at just $50m.

In 2015, magazine ad revenue had plummeted to $11bn, whilst Facebook had rocketed to $16bn. I’d urge you to read those two sentences once more to let the figures sink in.

In Galloway’s January DLD conference address, he states, “the Advertising Industrial Complex has come to an end.” It’s difficult to argue otherwise when comparing the year-on-year growth (Q1-Q3 2014-2015) of Google and Facebook (26.2%) with that of WPP, Interpublic and Omnicom combined (2.3%).

Take a look at Galloway’s address. It really is astonishing. But it does make me wonder: What was the last Facebook or Google ad I remember? Nope. No idea..

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