General Business

Ad Agency Experts Discuss 2020 Industry Trends

From balancing data privacy issues vs consumer preferences to using an in-house department compared to an outside agency, advertising professionals discussed the state of the industry at a recent New Jersey Advertising Club meeting in Livingston.

Responding to a question posed by moderator Lindsay Stein, editor of Campaign US, about what trends would carry over from 2019 to 2020, Kwame Taylor-Hayford, co-founder of Kin and Saturday Morning, said that brands will be better aligning themselves with causes that have a stronger affiliation to the company. “It is important to connect with something meaningful – with authenticity –  that has long-term staying power,” he said.

Taras Wayner, North American chief creative officer at Wunderman Thompson, predicted that advertising agencies will continue to merge in 2020, and that agencies will have fewer departments. He sees, as a specific example, production departments merging with creative departments.

Andrew McKechnie, chief creative officer at Verizon, meanwhile said data and privacy issues will continue to be a main concern. Companies are being forced to take positions on privacy and explain what they do with customer data.

When Moderator Stein brought up the issue of consumers enjoying personalized information and services delivered to them and associated data privacy concerns, McKechnie responded, “You need a middle ground. How far is too far in assuming people’s needs? It’s a matter of just enough personalization. It’s a question of ‘How much data [is the consumer] willing to give up?’”

On issues that “Keep you up at night,” Taylor-Hayford said it is how to excite the next generation of talent so that they stay at an agency – or in the industry in general – because there are so many job options for them today. He said companies must be flexible in terms of working remotely and other benefits.

On a related question concerning “What excites you?” McKechnie said it’s today’s youth in the workplace. “We had a group from Generation Z come make a presentation and they offered a fresh perspective. It was a fresh slap in the face,” he said.

Discussing the pros and cons of creating work in-house or taking it to outside agencies, McKechnie, who heads the in-house group at Verizon, said an in-house team “helps accelerate, stabilize and create a consistent identity for the brand. That said, Verizon does use outside agencies, with McKechnie saying, “It’s a great ecosystem for us to play in.”

On this debate, Wayner added that it is not an “us vs them” but an “us and them” situation. “We don’t lose if you go in-house. We succeed by figuring out the ‘and’ part. We must be flexible and embrace partnerships.”

Taylor-Hayford warns that a danger of being in-house is that “it’s pretty tough not to drink your own Cool-Aid.”

When asked if he see businesses looking to spend advertising dollars in 2020 or pull back, Wayner responded, “Businesses will continue spending money smarter. They will probably spend the same amount, maybe even more, but there is going to be a consistent re-evaluation of partnerships.” As for advertising agencies coping with this challenge, he said, “There has to be a massive swing in how we build and manage our relationships.”

To access more business news, visit NJB News Now.

Related Articles: