Forrester’s 2020 Predictions Report speculates that by 2030, 80% of agency jobs will be transformed by automation, which will enhance the industry, not replace it. So, as we head into a new decade, how will technology re-invent the creative process, and how should agencies be prepared to work within the shifting model, while still maintaining the element of humanity?
As the landscape changes, agencies will produce more content, for targeted audiences, faster, and with fewer resources. Traditionally, the agency creative process has remained reasonably unchanged. While the industry’s progression of automation and technology is often perceived as a threat, these platforms can also enhance creativity.
So, what will change, and how can agencies pivot towards what is fast becoming the new paradigm?
The media cycle will continue to accelerate, but attention spans will continue to diminish.
With more content pushed out on more channels and devices, the ability to reach a consumer is dwindling, as is the amount of time that he or she will spend consuming that content. The Internet has ruined our attention spans, making it harder to connect, and increasing the need to create impactful content.
The media landscape will continue to fragment
The future has more channels, devices, and platforms, all of which are competing for consumer attention. While opportunities are abundant, it can be a game of catchup when it comes to brand messaging, e.g. TikTok, a platform that sprang out of nowhere and now has everyone clambering to get on the bandwagon.
Big Data will transform the way we target and message consumers
With the rise of big data, the potential to facilitate personalized messaging in context is HUGE. It’s an opportunity to reach people with hyper-relevant messaging. For example, the OOH space can now co-mingle a brand’s first-party data with mobile location data to deliver hyper-targeted messages to consumers. This means that brands need to have messaging tailored to consumer behavior, that is also location/scenario specific.
Moving forward, agencies will have to change the way they ideate and develop content. The old way of having an elite team of creatives meditating on a brand challenge, only to produce a winning idea days later, won’t fit the new landscape.
Use the strength of numbers
Creativity takes time, it’s a universal fact. It’s hard for small teams to consistently write original and impactful content. We don’t know when and where inspiration is going to strike, but when you’re in the business of capturing lightning in a bottle, it helps to have lightning rods…and lots of them, in all shapes and sizes, spread across the country. Changes in the creative process will lead to wider and more diverse access to minds agencies wouldn’t otherwise be able to tap. Creatives should take themselves out of the weeds of content creation and assume the role of editors and curators: specialists who can spot the rough diamonds, quickly polish them, and get them out the door, rinse and repeat (at scale).
Use technology to save time
Are all ideas winners? NO. Will there always be some duds in there? OF COURSE. But, the future will show that technology has the ability to enhance the creative process, delivering more solid ideas and jumping off points that have yet to be considered or unearthed, within a smaller time frame.
Technology can help us hear what people are saying about our brand (social listening tools), surface-specific newsworthy items that are doing the rounds (social media, news), and give recommendations on what content we should produce based on how our previous content has performed (analytics). But, technology can only go so far, we will still always require bright, smart minds to generate ideas, riffs, hooks, and jumping-off points for content.
Embrace a shortened cycle
Even if you had all the time in the world, it never makes sense to personally respond to six or seven briefs for a cold prospect. Agency time is monopolized by RFP’s and briefs, followed often by radio silence and ghosting. Technology has the ability to relieve a lot of this cycle, allowing in-house teams to spend time on the projects that are important while lowering burn out rates and not sacrificing client expectations.
As an industry, we need to step into these changes and work smarter, not harder. Let the masses, tech, and automation do the heavy lifting, while we set strategy and steer the course. Shepherding a brand’s message through the hurricane that is the modern media landscape is a daunting task, but with the right tools, modern agencies can both weather the storm and emerge triumphant with the winds of change at their backs.