7 things advertising professionals need to unlearn

“Five years from now, CMOs will spend more on IT than CIOs do” – a headline that signals disruption in the way we know our business. As the professional network chatter grows, fuelled by this Gartner prediction, it brings to the fore the drastic changes currently underway in our industry – where marketers are training to befriend algorithms, data and tech platforms, while techies are busy learning how to tell engaging stories.

This unusual juxtaposition is staring us right in our faces, as if questioning, “so what should advertising agencies really learn?”

Perhaps the right answer to this is to start unlearning this year.

Unlearn these things:

  • How we view our roles in prepping for the social, digital and mobile worlds.
  • The fact that marketers will continue to look to us to help them drive their digital marketing ambitions.
  • The ways we know how stories are told and shared.
  • The belief that analytics, big data and number crunching is “not how we do creative work in here”
  • The mindset that creativity is only celebrated at Cannes and not SXSW.
  • That our industry is only about creative storytelling, while innovations happen at Silicon Valley.
  • That advertising the way we know it has existed from the days of “Mad Men”.

I guess there is a lot to unlearn in this rapidly emerging new world order, where on one hand the business of marketing is increasingly driven by technology led decisions, and on the other, our industry continues to lose visionary minds to forward-looking, tech-based, innovation-centric corporations.

The truth is, in the past decade, while the real technology based specialists in Accenture, Sapient, Oracle, Microsoft and others, were investing strategically in both understanding and scripting the impact tech could have in shaping the business of marketing, we as an industry, were preoccupied with adapting and adopting to the emerging challenges of social, digital and mobile.

This is a reason we never kept pace with the emerging importance of big data, analytics, customer experience management and other more scientifically driven go-to-market tools.

Sure, we will bounce back and continue to play a meaningful role moving forward in the business of marketing, which will be increasingly led by technology based decisions. But three things that will really help us on this journey are the realisations that:

  1. The art of storytelling doesn’t change, but the narrative has.
  2. The science of big data, analytics and the customer experience journey helps the creative process.
  3. We are no more merely in the business of creative storytelling, but ushering in creative innovations.

To sum it up, even in the tech age, the true creative solutions-driven approach will continue to be the driving force.

The writer is Sailesh Wadhwa, strategy planning director at Lowe Malaysia.