Jeff Estok
Oct 29, 2013

The view from Madison Avenue: Seven challenges for clients and agencies

Learnings from the invitation-only AdForum Worldwide Summit held recently in New York.

The view from Madison Avenue: Seven challenges for clients and agencies

The AdForum Worldwide Summit in New York is a unique and highly focused ‘by invitation only’ event that Navigare has had the good fortune to attend for the last 11 years.

This year, 22 leading consultants from around the globe descended on New York in October to meet and interact with agency-network CEOs and management from all disciplines: creative, media, digital, shopper, social.

Trying to condense the learnings from 22 agency meetings, plus audiences with five of the leading holding company CEOs, is no easy task. But seven important trends emerged that are set to challenge marketers and agencies alike.

Effectiveness trumps effort

Gone are the soft claims of the past about how many Facebook likes and YouTube views a campaign achieved. The more progressive are quantifying which efforts lead to purchase, and are able to monetise these efforts. The focus on effectiveness has also seen the rise of the importance of direct and shopper marketing, where effectiveness is more easily tracked.  Many media companies are also pioneering new effectiveness algorithms and systems, so this should be an exciting space to watch over the next 12 months.

Smart data trumps big data

The debate about whether ‘big data’ is a fad is over. Many agencies are staking their future on the ability to harness that data and turn it into compelling insights and advantage for their clients. Some are doing it much better than others, like pushing the boundaries of predictive behaviour. But make no mistake, related to the ‘effectiveness’ push above, smart data is the new table stakes.


Jeff Estok is managing partner of Navigare.

Millennials trump boomers

When you look at the lifetime value of customers, this shift in emphasis is obvious.  But with it comes a seismic shift in marketing. Among this target group, 80 per cent find brands, whereas brands find a mere 20 per cent of them. So the traditional mindset of marketing to them is flawed. It requires a new paradigm, which may be hard for many boomer CMOs to grasp, as it requires them to think like a millennial.

Innovation trumps imitation

The days of GMOOT (give me one of those) are dying off. The success stories are being written by companies for which innovation is core to their operations. These companies not only enjoy greater sales and market share, but command what Forbes has labelled the ‘innovation premium’ in their share price.

Mobility trumps mobile

If you think mobile marketing is merely a case of optimising for the device, think again. Mobility marketing is behaviour-driven, and with the data explosion, has opened up a whole range of new location and activity specific marketing opportunities. So if you are still thinking device, think again. And if you haven’t even begun to realise that mobiles are no longer the ‘second’ device, you are farther behind than you realise.

Creativity trumps technology

The tech explosion over the past couple of years seemed to divert marketers’ attention from a simple truth: While technology has created new and exciting ways to communicate, if your content is not worth sharing, none of that really matters. And where creative agencies over the past few years have spruiked that ‘digital is at the core of everything we do’, digital agencies are now spruiking the reverse—that creativity is at the core of everything that they do. And many are putting the runs on the board to justify that claim.

Sales trumps everything

Forget NPS (net promoter scores). Forget brand-health measures. With worldwide GDPs averaging between 2 and 4 per cent, marketers, and agencies, will be held more accountable for sales contributions than ever before. Period. 

The mandate that agencies are receiving from clients is clear: Help us sell more stuff. And the trends that emerged this year all had a sharper edge and greater urgency than ever before.

It will be interesting to see if this also gives rise to Procurement 3.0: the funding of more, better, more senior agency resources to help companies achieve sales, profit and share-price growth. 

A novel thought.

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