Ten Industry Trends from the AdForum Worldwide Summit

by Hervé de Clerck , AdForum








The invitation-only AdForum Worldwide Summit took place in New York from October 5-9. It brought together 30 agency search consultants with 23 agency CEOs and leadership teams from all disciplines. (See list below)

Here’s a summary of the trends that emerged when they got talking.

1. Maturity and normalization
Creative agencies have digested the digital revolution. Once seen as out of step, they have reconfigured, re-emerged and regained control. Ironically, given the primacy of content, many digital agencies have now strayed onto the territory of the creative networks. The remaining digital agencies are becoming more specialized than ever.

2. Re-bundling communication services
Increased complexity is stimulating the integration of agency services. Clients want simplicity and the ghost of “full service” is hovering. Both media and production are being taken back inside agencies as they adapt content for social integration, experiential and enhanced engagement. This could spell trouble for the media agencies.

3. From silos to specialism
But the integrated model won’t look like it did before: agencies have developed new structures in order to stay “agile and nimble”. Whatever the buzzword, it comes down to making sure teams are multi-disciplinary, reactive and flexible.

4. Technology is not an attribute
Digital is now everyone’s focus. In fact it’s the new normal, so digital agencies are finding it hard to differentiate themselves. The game now is in the way you apply the principles of digital. Technology isn’t everything – you need more.

5. From big data to smart data
As data continues to transform the industry, including in the area of performance accountability, there is a shift from data mining towards data interpretation that leads to action. Data and ideas should work in tandem. Real-time marketing is on the increase and smart metrics are seen as a driver of efficiency.











6. It’s about business, not just communications

Agencies are heading back for the client boardroom as they evolve into consultancies. As a result, they are meeting a larger set of competitors. Nonetheless, they see their goal as “solving any business issue” – not just those that require an advertising response.

7. Product innovation
Many agencies at the Summit referred to their involvement in developing products (“DO” instead of “TELL”). They are adopting a product-first approach to the customer, as the product and the related experience are more important than the advertising. Design a good product, then work on building the relationship.

8. The return of emotionally-grounded creative
While in previous years agencies fought to prove their efficiency through complex web tactics supported by an avalanche of Views and Likes, we are witnessing the return of simple heartbreaking stories. This may reflect a perceived need for brands to be “authentic”.

9. Iterative and real-time marketing
Thanks to smart use of data, campaigns can “learn” in real time and adapt to consumer responses as if they’re living, breathing things. Missteps can be corrected and messages subtly retuned.

10. Collaborate, don’t brief
Real time marketing and the new silo-free structure leave little room for the conventional brief. Instead, both client and agency are developing a collaborative approach to work processes. Today’s multiplatform environment requires an on-going partnership rather than a campaign over a fixed period.

About AdForum Worldwide Summit:
Twice a year, AdForum invites agencies CEOs and leadership teams in private meetings to share their vision, strategies, agency news and key corporate messages, to articulate « the view from the top » to the world’s leading agency search and management consultants. drawn from around the world.

Last week, 30 Consultants from around the world attended 23 meetings in New York with:
Michael Roth, Chairman & CEO of Interpublic, Andrew Robertson, CEO, BBDO Worldwide, Michael Lebowitz, Founder & CEO Big Spaceship, Michael Kim, Global COO, Cheil Worldwide, Anouk Papers, co founder, Cool Brands, Mark O’Brien, President and CEO NA, DDB Worldwide, Erica Horvath, Creative Director & Founder, Fancy, Nick Brien, CEO, iCrossing & President Hearst Magazines Marketing Services, Guy Hayward, Global CEO, KBS+ , Matt Williams, CEO, The Martin Agency, Moray McLennan, Worldwide CEO, M&C Saatchi, Daniel Khabie, Global CEO, Mirum, Jack Myers, ‎Chairman MyersBizNet, Alex Leikikh, Global CEO, Mullen Lowe Group, Darin Brown, CEO, EMEA, Possible, Andrew Bruce, CEO, Publicis North America, Domenico Vitale, Chief Idea Architect, PI&C, Gaston Legorburu, Global CCO, SapientNitro, Herwig Preis, Founder + CEO, SelectNY, Troy Ruhanen, ‎President and CEO, TBWA\Worldwide, Gene Liebel, co-founder, Work&Co, Mark Read, Global CEO, Wunderman, David Jones, Founder, You & Mr Jones.

The next AdForum Worldwide Summit will take place in Berlin 13-15 April 2016. Visit AdForum for more information.