What will marketing look like in 2020? The trends of today shaping the agency of tomorrow

In anticipation of the next CS Presents event which explores the agency landscape in 2020, we asked the speakers to take a peek into a crystal ball and predict which main trend of today will have the most impact on the Agency of Tomorrow. Here is what they told us:

Ed Warren, creative partner at Creature

The impact of the rise of the internet creator and the massive audiences that they command is only just beginning to be felt by agencies, and this trend shows no sign of stopping with the top six celebrities amongst American youth being YouTubers rather than traditional Hollywood folk. But this isn’t just about celebrity, it’s about the type of content that’s being consumed, and this huge shift must force agencies from solely using scarcity model thinking (making a few, highly polished things slowly) to abundance model thinking (making many things, cheaply and quickly).

If we want to keep up we’ll have to stop thinking in executions and start thinking in formats, formats that we can feed and sustain over time. But, happily, we should be well positioned to do this, after all sticky, short-form, high concept ideas have been our bread and butter for decades.

Shanice Mears, planner intern at Iris Worldwide

Right now, it’s a social thing. If anybody watches the Late Late Show with James Corden, he did a great sketch of the rise of social media whereby brands are asking you to follow them everywhere, with a social channel  –  and corresponding action (‘Tweet me’, ‘Snapchat me’)  – for everything.

Social media holds a lot of power right now, it has become a reliable source for news, created by the people for the people. It’s definitely having a glory moment in this vein, especially as we seem to wake up to daily news, such as what Kim Kardashian’s dress was the night before, before we hear about terrorism attacks across the world. That’s due to many things but social media has become a wave of entertainment – news, but most of all what the people want.

My prediction is that the rise of social will continue, especially as there’s such a role for it to play at the moment, but eventually we will reach a saturation point and it will become standardised, whereby nobody will be interested in further innovation in social anymore ;  it will be just another channel.

Agencies in 2020 will have a very different approach to social media. At the moment, social media is still a divider  –  you’ll hear some people say they still don’t use it because they don’t get it so they avoid it. And that’s within our industry. But by 2020, everybody will know how to use social and it will become a new mandatory skill and career path.

Brian Cooper, chief creative officer at Oliver Group, executive creative director at Dare

Rather than railing against data, creatives should embrace it. Besides we have no choice. In the future, everything we do in agencies will be data born. As a creative I see this as an opportunity.

Data is actually very empathetic. By looking at behaviour and people’s likes and wants through data, creatives will be able to better understand the audiences they speak to. Data also removes the confirmation bias of a creative director. One no longer has to fit the facts to suit an opinion. Rather we can build an idea on what the data tells us.

Liz Jones, chief executive, B2B at Dentsu Aegis Network

Whilst I don’t think we are returning to the full service agency model of the 80s or 90s, I believe agencies will be offering a greater myriad of services from one central point. We are moving towards a more consultative client approach where lead agencies will become the ‘red-thread’ connecting the appropriate capability for the client’s specific business and consumer eco-system.

Media buying, which has been at the core of the agency offering, will be 100 per cent programmatic meaning the services that clients will need to navigate will be data and content driven, whilst harnessing future technologies and platforms. Many of which, we don’t yet know about. At Dentsu Aegis, we currently have 19 agency brands in the UK and, if we continue to grow at our current rate, this number could reach 40 by 2020.

We are already adopting a different approach through our newest agency fortysix. The driving force behind the launch is the demand for a new kind of agency that solves client problems through diverse perspectives and at speed, in a way that is better suited to digitally native customers, while also providing better opportunities for young talent of the future. fortysix is staffed by digital natives from diverse backgrounds who understand what people respond to today, because they are those people.

Sam Conniff, joint chief executive, co-founder and chief purpose officer at Livity

In 2020 I think agencies and clients will be emerging from the 'Purpose Crash'. Similar to the journey of the dot com bubble in 2001, the purpose bubble will blow up in 2018 when no one can drag themselves to go shopping for fear of being suffocated by significant messages, as their noodles campaign for gender equality and their biscuits try to build a better world.

As with the dot com crash, the strong will survive, and the underlying trend will change business forever and by 2020 we’ll be seeing who the Lastminutes, eBays and Amazons are in the new transparent age of creating and communicating products and services where brands understand audiences are their responsibility, not just their opportunity.

To hear more from Ed, Shanice, Brian, Liz and Sam and what Agency 2020 means to you, grab your tickets for Creative Social’s event on 20th September here.

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