15 July 2009

A Darwinian Moment

Miles Nadal (from MDC) had a very interesting point today. He commented that we are, currently, seeing a Darwinian Moment like never seen before in the Advertising Agency world (and in Marketing Services in general).

I think this is entirely true. We're not just in a period of enormous change - we really are seeing potential mass extinction of an entire species or two.

But I believe that the changes that are going on are not evolutionary in the usual sense of the word (where we would simply see new, refined, versions of the species emerge due to competitive improvements - "survival of the fittest").

I actually believe this is (to extend the Darwin metaphor to the breaking point) the result of cataclysmic environment changes. The obvious (and overused) analogy is the Death of the Dinosaurs. Dinosaurs were ideally evolved for the ecosystems of their time - but when there was sudden and massive climate change, they were unable to adapt quickly enough and their niches in the ecosystems were filled by entirely new species that were better suited to the new environmental conditions.

I think something similar has occurred with Advertising. I honestly don't believe the "Agency" as we know it is going to survive (or at least in any form that we currently recognize) because I don't believe that the new ecosystems will support them - and in fact won't support what we have always called "Advertising." I believe that the needs and functions of both the Agency and of Advertising (the "niche" as described above) will at least largely be filled by new entities that are optimized for these new environmental conditions - and within this new ecosystem.

If you put me on the spot - I would say that the attributes that these new emergent entities will likely possess will be:
- a focus on consumer experience
- a focus on word-of-mouth
- nimble, flexible (and likely small and/or de-centralized)
- fixated on the consumer rather than their customer (the brands)
- deeply knowledgeable about memes, viral spread and influencer marketing
- at most marginally interested in traditional "advertising" and media

I think there is going to be truly massive opportunity in this space - but it's going to come at the cost of a lot of traditional players.


At 10:41 PM, Blogger Chris Teso said...

since advertising is dead, I assume those that procure it shall die as well.

At 12:33 PM, Blogger chris said...

I don't know if I'd say Advertising is dead (either conclusively, totally or in the near-term).


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