A Software Nerd's View of Ad Agencies and the Future of Advertising.
Author: Paul Volpato
Published Jan 10, 2020
I come from a software world, full of odd types that have their heads stuck in code and exchange conversation with other oddballs about online games and internet bandwidth. OK, I’ve fallen into the trap of stereotyping my peers and for that I throw myself on the mercy of the court. However… there is a semblance of truth in what I’m saying, which makes my immersion into the realms of the advertising industry interesting, to say the least.
How did I start rubbing shoulders with agency types? I joined MyAdbox, a magical fusion of software developers and quasi ad agency people that have created the world’s best Brand Automation platform. We take the creative concepts that are dreamt up by our client’s ad agencies and plug those ideas into our system which then turns them into automated pieces that can be modified and despatched at a fraction of the costs of the ad agency production team. Hold that thought if you can. I’ll come back to it.
So here are my observations of being in agency land. I’ve seen eccentric Creative Directors, Art Directors and Copywriters arguing over pithy headlines and odd layouts of imagery that, without context, sound quite absurd. The subjective nature of these discussions and ‘creative’ standpoints based on ‘feel’ are such a departure from the factual world I was part of. Totally respect it… but strange, nonetheless. Then there’s the Strategy teams - the media types coming up with weird and wonderful ways to game social media or search engine algorithms - once again, based on? I’ve also found myself coming in contact with ‘suits’ - the Client Service teams that are basically the meat in the creative/client sandwich. So that kind of accounts for at least a third of an agency’s headcount… where’s the other two thirds, I hear you say? It’s over there in the rather large part of the ad agency’s expensive floorspace called the studio. In there you’ll find a whole lot of bleary eyed “Mac Operators”. These are the poor guys who have spent four long years at uni to learn the finer points of colour, layout, space and typography all so they could become the ad agency equivalent of a forklift driver. Don’t get me wrong, they know stuff - they’re basically experts in the Adobe range of products. Need an image retouched? Mac Op. Need that print ad resized? Mac Op. But it’s not just one image, or one resize. It’s hundreds of these mind-numbing jobs every day, day after day.
Welcome to the world of Advertising Production. If you’re a large brand with an ad agency, this is where most of your money goes - funding the team of Mac Ops mind-numbingly executing your media schedule. To make sure they don’t slow down on their ad making treadmill, they bend to the will of the Traffic Manager (think the guy with the whip, standing above the manacled rowers on the Viking ships). I may be sounding a bit cynical, but this really is what an average ad agency looks and feels like. Because while agencies champion their creative people and obsess about impressing their clients, the last thing they’re thinking about is how they could be working smarter to drive more value to their client’s bottom line.
That neatly gets my little rant here back to MyAdbox, which is where that value piece comes in. Remember that thought I asked you to hold above? About how we plug an ad agency's ideas into our system which then turns those ideas into automated pieces that can be modified and despatched at a fraction of the costs of the ad agency production team? That’s precisely the magic of MyAdbox - and it’s how we save our clients a fortune. Like… six and seven figure sums of money annually on ad agency production - or the poor Mac Op teams that are smashing out ads infinitum.
So… is MyAdbox the thin edge of the wedge for agencies? Is it the beginning of the end for Advertising as we know it?
The answer is … sort of, but not really. We are definitely upsetting the apple cart (that’s a cute way of calling us ‘disrupters’ - but that’s marketing jargon and I’m a software guy that prefers the apple cart metaphor). While it’s true that agencies won’t make as much money because the production cash cow has been replaced by MyAdbox, the savings from using the MyAdbox system can be used by clients to reinvest in more great creative (that’s a win for the ad agencies) or redistributed to more diverse media options (ditto for media outlets). So it’s about working smarter and working a lot faster (MyAdbox makes ads in a fraction of the time of the army of Mac Ops and it works around the clock, every day of the year!)
The moral to my little story? The sandpit is changing and changing fast, but there’s plenty of room in it for everyone to play.
For more information about MyAdbox and its suite of Brand Automation products, Contact Us.