The role of technology in advertising

Executives at a conference in Cannes have been discussing the future of advertising. As reported in the New York Times:

executives harshly criticized Google’s recent agreement to place ads next to Yahoo search results. The move could strengthen Google’s dominance over the most lucrative portion of the fast-growing online advertising field.

Fair enough. I think we would all agree with that.

But the tone of this next quote suggests a mis-understanding of the role of technology in advertising:

Ad executives worry that Google and Microsoft, which is moving to bolster its capabilities in search and other areas of online advertising, will not stop there. They fear that the companies want to extend their reach into traditional advertising — transforming, as they see it, a business built on creativity to one controlled by the sterile algorithms of computer programmers.

I have long thought that the advertising industry could become more efficient and that ‘creativity’ is a smaller part of the value to clients than many ad executives think. It feels to me like this is like arguing for the benefit of hand made goods in the face of competition from mass production.

What technology might do is break the link between creative services and media buying. That would open up some interesting opportunities for new types of online market place and mass collaboration platforms.

  • Nic, you are right but what you are really hearing here is the pain of the dominant “creative” culture within Adland seeing power slip away as the online new technology is far more measurable.

    Wish we knew what all the measurements meant though 😉

  • Nic, you are right but what you are really hearing here is the pain of the dominant “creative” culture within Adland seeing power slip away as the online new technology is far more measurable.

    Wish we knew what all the measurements meant though 😉

  • ivanpope

    Welcome back!

  • Welcome back!

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  • Insightful post… the point about ‘breaking the link’ is good and is already happening. Graphic design marketplaces are springing up online, where designers compete for projects in an open fashion, and we make use of them to develop the ‘creative’ behind our online ad campaigns. We then manage the buying of this inventory ourselves and use services that auto-optimize our Google advertising (for example), ultimately leading to a far more efficient, effective and economical campaign for our startup. When we need a TV ad, we’ll go to the ad agencies… then again, maybe not. Ad agencies need to adapt and acquire, like all the other legacy businesses being affected by the Internet.

  • Insightful post… the point about ‘breaking the link’ is good and is already happening. Graphic design marketplaces are springing up online, where designers compete for projects in an open fashion, and we make use of them to develop the ‘creative’ behind our online ad campaigns. We then manage the buying of this inventory ourselves and use services that auto-optimize our Google advertising (for example), ultimately leading to a far more efficient, effective and economical campaign for our startup. When we need a TV ad, we’ll go to the ad agencies… then again, maybe not. Ad agencies need to adapt and acquire, like all the other legacy businesses being affected by the Internet.

  • nic

    Chris – thanks for an interesting comment. I guess I feel that in the future it will be harder to have a strong brand overlaying a commodity proposition – there is so much information available to consumers these days that it is really hard unless you have a genuinely good product. To your examples – I suspect that Stella maintains its position through control of the supply chain and lack of meaningful competition, but also wouldn’t be surprised to see them moving backwards, and Nike has genuinely good design.

    Finally – a tailor made brand makes sense for companies that are big enough to merit it, and creativity will remain important, but if you separate that from media buying the world will start to look very different to how it does today.

  • nic

    Chris – thanks for an interesting comment. I guess I feel that in the future it will be harder to have a strong brand overlaying a commodity proposition – there is so much information available to consumers these days that it is really hard unless you have a genuinely good product. To your examples – I suspect that Stella maintains its position through control of the supply chain and lack of meaningful competition, but also wouldn’t be surprised to see them moving backwards, and Nike has genuinely good design.

    Finally – a tailor made brand makes sense for companies that are big enough to merit it, and creativity will remain important, but if you separate that from media buying the world will start to look very different to how it does today.