What will my job look like in 5 years time?

We’re a curious bunch at Think Create Do (not curious as in strange, but curious as in inquisitive) and our work often leads us to contemplate how businesses may look in the not-too-distant future.

As a team we’re all too aware that we’re perhaps getting a little long in the tooth, and with age and wisdom sometimes comes ingrained assumptions too. We might read oodles around the subject, interview and speak with a myriad of people, but our perspective is always framed within a context of our existing knowledge.

So when we were thinking about the changing nature of the advertising (and related) industries, having worked in, on and around them for so long, we thought our perspective might be tainted. So we asked someone who was untainted, what they thought.

Mati Kettel is an 3rd year undergraduate on a 4 year advertising degree, currently undertaking a placement year in an established integrated marketing agency. We’ve known Mati for a while. We think he’s smart so we wanted to know what he had to say.

Over to you Mati…

What will my job look like in 5 years time?

This is not a perusal of advertising, it’s a question as to how prepared agencies and future marketers are to adapt and grow in an age of innovation.

I was inspired to seek a career in the world of advertising based on an ideal view of the industry. However in the past 5 years, the world of advertising has seemingly evolved beyond recognition.

I had peeked through the blinds of luxurious, self-indulgent agency offices with rock stars running big rock ‘n roll agencies, shops selling ideas you wish you’d thought of, I was captivated.

But out of the many opportunities that I’m excited about, one thing hangs over me and that is: the ad agency business model. It’s dying out.

What does this mean to ‘traditional’ ad agencies in the midst of radical change? Full service agencies have always ran similar systematic processes. They sell an approach that offers complete end-to-end service, bypassing competition and making a comfortable living by having lasting relationships as their client’s best friend. I’m not sure they have a viable approach any longer.

The digital landscape over the past decade has paved new ways of working and transformed the rituals that agencies previously relied on. It seems to me that the days of big bang creative reveals, single-minded strategy based upon opinions and conventions are gone. All to be succeeded by new approaches such as creative hacking and adapting in real-time instead of long-term campaigns, agile marketing, data-led campaign strategy and hyper-personalization over large target audiences.

Agencies decades ago didn’t have access to big data like they do now, data capture techniques are so advanced that research is the almighty overlord.

Advertising is moving in a good direction. Communicating with purpose is no new concept but now it’s becoming necessary for brands and influencers to back this up with a recent emphasis on advertising for good across the industry. If I wrote a piece about what I hoped advertising would turn into 5 years ago, it wouldn’t have been far off the present and that makes me happy. But I digress, why is this hurting traditional ad agencies?

Why I believe agencies of today are being hurt

Recently, the IPA president said, “any gaps between what brands say and what they do are cruelly exposed.” Marketers now are working to a completely reinvented agenda forced upon them by a multitude of touch points for brand interaction.

Brands are judged in the moment. Trust is a daily struggle, customers seek authenticity and loyalty in real-time, moment-to-moment. Full service agencies have to focus on customer experience as a continuous output. Ad blockers have transformed content from being broadcast and now it’s mostly optional.

Everyone jumps on the bandwagon. The latest technology brings exciting opportunities. Virtual Reality, 3D printing, and the latest big things online which can force pressure on an agency to learn these new skills while keeping up with current work and try to keep up with pricing these new technologies and appropriately mark up the price to counterbalance costs of purchasing new products and software, training staff and hiring freelancers when need be.

Targets need to be met

With fixed overheads, the ability to turn down work isn’t an easy option as overheads from swanky offices and swankier cars, expensive staff and upkeep of creative offices raise costs exponentially.

March of the makers

Software as a service is a massive industry that is growing, competing with the services that a lot of agencies sell.

The smaller guys are winning. The current digital landscape is serving a lot of attention to specialists, startups and freelancers and that’s a problem for agencies as they find it have to adapt and partner up on client work when they are undercut in price and service.

With so much out there, advertising is vital in this day and age; however more choice and more distribution means the landscape will change within advertising and our roles will have to adapt. Maybe agencies just need to accept the death of departments and move forward with a focus on collaboration and tackling unpredictable challenges that are constantly coming over the horizon and challenging the way they work.

How does it look to those in the early stage of their careers? There’s a lot of pressure on newbies entering advertising. Long established has been the complex and competitive nature of this business but how does the shifting landscape affect young professionals?

New research by Creative Brief shows that CMO’s are embracing two-way learning with their future successors. I have the chance to master skills that are developing alongside my career. What falls under customer experience brings new opportunities: real-time content, social media and hyper-personalization are exciting and they’re still growing. User experience on modern devices and social are instinctive.

We hear echoed talk of perfect ‘T’ shape employee go around the industry as the ideal agency personnel, it’s simple in theory: the vertical aspect of the T represents depth, and the horizontal bar is breadth. To me, it’s a given, I don’t think it’s a learnt concept, T’s are intrinsically motivated to act in a certain way towards their career; a third expert and the rest, a mixture of what your agency does e.g. account planners that are creative, strategic, good presenter, writer, culturally & technologically aware and socially connected.

Enormous pressure comes with the ingrained expectations of being fluid and transferable in skillsets now as we are starting to realize what we’re good at now won’t necessarily be useful in 5 years time. I feel as though a lot of newcomers look to the past for direction and that’s just not possible in today’s landscape, we need to be looking at what trends are on the horizon and how we can capitalize.