What is the future of advertising? Part 1: the columnists

What is the future of advertising? Part 1: the columnists

It’s only two weeks to go until The Future of Brands 2023, our live event in London, puts some of the world’s biggest advertisers on the spot about what makes great marketing and what is the future of advertising, that all-important source of funding for media.

So, The Media Leader has tasked some of our regular columnists on what they think the future of advertising is, with topics ranging from trust to fragmentation to sustainability and attention.

Later this week we will share views from undergraduate students at university, who are likely to have different perspectives, as well as members of our Future 100 Club. As they say (or, at least, used to say), watch this space…


Raymond Snoddy: trust and accountability

“The future of advertising should, and absolutely could, be based on the twin peaks of trust and accountability.

“Media groups have slowly learned that the way to stand out from the morass of online misinformation is to provide information that is tested and true. The same should be so for the advertising industry with reliable numbers to back up trustworthy, targeted marketing.

“The lazy days of whacking out any old programmatic in the hope that some of it sticks should be banished forever.”

Sabrina Clarke: fragmented and sustainable

“The future of advertising is the ability of advertisers to connect with niche audiences in a viral and fragmented marketplace in a sustainable way.”

“Consumers are getting savvier with protecting their data with VPN and safe browsing tools.

“Reaching audiences where they are will be more complicated in the future because they may be on Twitch, VR, Reddit, or a streaming or audio platform. They may even be an avatar or AI form of themselves.

“Therefore, advertisers who understand traditional personas and strategies have evolved and require a high-touch, tailored approach that is good for the planet will lead.”

Jan Gooding: fascinating and independent

“A career in advertising will always be a fascinating one for anyone who is interested in what makes people tick. The kind of people who are curious about why people choose one brand over another and wonder how they might be persuaded to switch loyalties.

“Of course, artificial intelligence will evolve the tools that marketing people have at their disposal to do their work. And technology will continue to change the media channels people use to get their information, as well as the way they buy things.

“But what won’t change, is the independent thinking and creativity required from people who develop and manage brands.”

Mike Follett: competing and for everyone

“The future of advertising will be pretty much the same as the past of advertising: brands all competing for consumer attention in a busy marketplace. The most interesting, or relevant, or beautiful stuff will earn more attention and help the brands earn more money. The ugly, boring, tedious stuff will be ignored, just as it always has been.”

“In fact, ads in the future will have more in common with ads in the past than the ads we have today. Currently, lots of digital ads use cookie data to track who’s been exposed to what ad, and then use this information to change the look and feel of the next ad that you are shown. This practice is being outlawed at the moment — you can’t do it on Apple phones anymore, and soon, you won’t be able to do it on Android either.

“This means that ‘cookie targeting’ and ‘personalised advertising’ is going away, and ads will go back to the way they were before the internet was invented – designed for everyone rather than a specific individual.”

Laurence Green: more and less

“I think there are many futures… because the advertising industry is now many industries in one. From the dwindling creative agency/brand owner relationships of yesteryear to the tech platform’s (aka advertising businesses’!) direct relationships with companies large and small, to influencers and beyond…

“So at risk of giving you a tricksy answer, I think the advertising of the future could be: more human (read Martin Weigel’s latest blogpost) and more automated, more global and more local, more regulated (categories like betting and booze coming under increased scrutiny, TikTok likewise and less regulated (because much of the digital landscape remains unruly), more virtual (if Zuckerberg is right) and more physical/experiential, more personalised (because of tech and data) and less personalised (because of privacy legislation, growing consumer awareness of the advertising contract they have been signing and the resilience of broadcast media).

“That makes it an exciting industry for its component players, but all this ‘more’ probably means advertising will become ever less popular with audiences, with a new premium on ad-free spaces!”

Nina Franck: cross-channel and attention

“In future we will see even more fragmentation as consumers are choosing their media consumption based on location and context. Advertisers have to think cross channel and focus on how to build up relevant reach across various channels fast and continuously.

“The truth of marketing basics (see Byron Sharp) has and will not change. What changes is consumers changing their consumption habits across several devices and navigating through a vast amount of offers for consuming content.

“Advertisers will have to put attention at the core of their planning to ensure their message gets a chance to be noticed in this jungle of fragmentation.”

Nick Manning: broad and effective

“Advertising is still the most effective way to grow a business, a brand, a product, a service or to simply affect people’s attitudes and behaviour in the short- and long-term. Making people aware of something is crucial to make them more inclined to act. Fame builds brands.

“The big recent change in advertising is how it has broadened to include other forms of communication. ‘Advertising’ has been re-defined to include other ways to reach and influence people.

“Yes, mainstream media still dominate but the mix now includes search, social media, re-sellers, websites, influencers, retail, packaging, affiliates and other ways to affect attitudes and behaviours. Today it’s TikTok, tomorrow something new but additional to what we already have. It’s layer upon layer, and all can be relevant. So, think of ‘advertising’ as a broad discipline that is the spearhead of all marketing.

“A great advertising strategy should include all the ways that the public and trade audiences (eg potential re-sellers) can be influenced. The key is always the four ‘Cs’:

  • Content: the right messaging is always necessary.
  • Channel: the right place for your specific audience (broad or more targeted) is key to effectiveness.
  • Context: being in the right place at the right time is always important.
  • Cost: doing all of the above at the right price (inc creative, production, media, transactions costs) is crucial for profitability.

“Data is key to all of this. Defining what to do and how best to do it is essential throughout the entire process, especially in relevant, personalised messaging. The rest is easy!”

Phil Rowley: multiplatform and convergent

“Convergence is the shortcut to understand the future of media and the future of advertising

“Ultimately, the metaverse is not only a dimensionalising of the internet, but also the continuing grand cross-pollination of content formats where the printed word, audio, video and now gaming are all becoming utterly entangled and indistinguishable.

“And that is good for the future of advertising . Here’s why. Because of this convergence, the metaverse is multiplatform. Most internet-based content is compatible with most digital devices and the metaverse, as a successor, will be no different.

“Thus, whilst we have seen daring media executions from brands across game avatars, NFT drops and virtual stores, the secret that no one tells brands is this: the continual interlacing of formats means the metaverse is backwards compatible with the internet and most devices.

“And therefore, so is your advertising. So conventional billboards or OOH ads can be bought in metaverse games, like their real-world equivalents, using the same copy and assets.  The same audio ads that can appear on Spotify or a local FM radio station can also pepper the audio soundtracks of mobile games. The same TV ads that can run in the middle of The Big Bang Theory, and run as a pre-roll on Youtube, can also preface access to a game’s new power up.”

Find out more about The Future of Brands, where speakers will include Sir John Hegarty, Tesco CMO Allessandra Bellini, Kraft Heinz European head of media, digital & content, Alex Wade, Giffgaff CMO Sally Wheater, HSBC CMO Becky Moffatt, Dreams director of marketing Simon Moore, Adidas director of paid media measurement & learning Gordon Black, Direct Line Group head of marketing effectiveness Carl Bratton, and many more…

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