Sparkin - Moving You Forward September 2016
Narrate a newsletter for creative strategy/brand planning professionals

Developing Trends - Final Third, 2016

Stuart Parkin

Through daily conversations with senior management in agencies and candidates looking to build their careers I’ve seen some important emerging trends:

Marketing agencies versus Advertising/Media/Digital Agencies - While all agencies specialize with a core competency that provides the bulk of income; big data is driving a need for integrated solutions – with meta services covering TV, website, public relations, outdoor stitching communication into a seamless whole.

User Experience Focus – From brand consultancies to digital and analog agencies, ‘user experience’, is now key. Clients want slick, streamlined processes with simple calls to action that are fun for users. Easy to say; enormously difficult to do.

Client-Side – Many of your peers see increasing possibility with their career options and an increasing number of strategists seek the ability to broaden their ability to impact overall brand evolution and user experience. This client/startup move also has much to do with perceived ‘relative’ stability away from the agency world.

Consultancy Smultancy – The big consultants are no longer the emerging competition but active ‘players’ in a landscape that seeks to harness big data and smart technology with creativity. This is manifesting with the big consultants' acquisition of talent or through agency acquisition. Creative agencies are increasingly going the other way, investing in data and technology specialists. The challenge for agencies is that it’s the big consultants that are more often perceived to be trustworthy with data/numbers.

In-House Marketing – The movement of ever more strategic talent client-side is making the movement of such talent to clients more the ‘norm’ and with it, the idea of clients developing in-house agency resources in part or total. This trend will continue as long as clients believe agencies cannot deliver or will not deliver at the price-point they believe fair.

Big Data/Programmatic – It’s all about the customer stupid! Ever more sophisticated large-scale data collection and synthesis aids both understanding in targeting and in measurement of campaigns. The trend to understand all

Career Options – More than ever, strategic planners have options to work in a range of non-advertising environments. Clients are increasingly recognizing the benefits the rigor/approach/thinking/toolbox, strategists can deliver. PR and media agencies have become fertile sources of employment for account planners in recent years. That said, digital, design, brand, innovation and technology consultancies have all become real options as of course have client-side and start-up client-side opportunities, particularly in the Bay area.

Homogenous Hiring – I work with agencies working across the spectrum of communication, (TV, digital, activation, media, PR and multicultural) product, brand, design and innovation consultancies. The briefs for desired strategic hires are looking ever more similar as agencies increasingly see a convergence of offering. Digital/UX, data, technology and research backgrounds are key. This homogenous hiring is often about agency turf wars/budgets (even within the same holding companies) and perceived expertise with clients versus (at least as a primary driving force) genuinely trying to offer strategic clarity and the best one-stop integrated solutions.

Titles! – Everyone today is a planner/strategist of some description. Everyone is also a master of brand building. Really? Well of course not. These are just titles! The truth is that there are more digital (SEM/SEO/ETC) channel experts (used to be called Media Planners, than ever. They are important; They play their part and that part needs to be understood by them and those hiring them.

Making a Difference - Perhaps there really is a social awakening. More individuals I talk with want to make a real difference. This desire is transcending age groups. The agencies targeted, consumer social responsibility (CSR) and purpose driven. The opportunity for big brands to tap in to, (for purely short term financial consideration) or better still truly embrace this cultural awakening, (with even bigger potential financial upside) are enormous.
Stuart: 646-280-5147

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