Advertising has its critics and on occasions makes a rod for its own back but it is interesting and gratifying to observe the latest of Christmas trends – the discussions around retailers’ Christmas commercials! Whether or not the trend really kicked off two years ago or not, with the heart-string puller from John Lewis (the one with the little boy seemingly bursting for Christmas Day gifts but is revealed to be desperately waiting to give to his parents) it seems every retailer has jumped on the emotional advertising band-wagon and we, the consumers, simply can’t get enough of it! “Oh…have you seen the new ad from Harvey Nicks” or “I really don’t like the new John Lewis ad – it’s not as good as last year’s” and such comments are being heard from all quarters. Clearly it appears we do like advertising really – or at least some of it!
Meanwhile advertising, in the traditional sense, is changing beyond recognition due to the rise of digital. All clients at least allocate a proportion of their budgets to this part of the mix and for some it very much dominates. Add to this the recession, which has hit the industry very hard via cuts in overall marketing spends for several years now, and many a traditional ad agency has gone to the wall. I’m glad to say we’ve adapted and continued to fare well, yet again posting a record year – that’s three on the trot and something we’re rightly proud of. Interestingly, growth from both our PR and digital offerings, have more than replaced the reduction in offline traditional ad spend, a trend that will no doubt continue to a degree, but the pace does appear to be slowing.
Traditional Vs Online Advertising
Clearly there will always be a place for traditional advertising and a balance with online will remain the norm. Indeed one of our clients, who’d moved almost entirely to Google adspend, allowed us to trial one of the most traditional of media, radio, with such success that a significant proportion of the overall budget has now shifted back to traditional! As we are able to provide the best in planning and buying for both on and offline media, it’s simply a case of advising what’s best.
The up and coming debate is now over the blurring of marketing disciplines. What is SEO and where do social media, content marketing and onsite/offsite SEO fit in? Where does offline PR end and become content marketing? What is good digital content anyway or is it simply PR? What is going to be the fallout from Google’s latest bombshell, Hummingbird?
It’s very much up in the air but one thing is certain, ‘content’ is going to be key in whatever guise it appears and this is where clients need to take note. I’m not yet aware of the client-side position called ‘Content Manager’ but I have a sneaky feeling it will exist soon. As an agency, one of our greatest challenges is getting content out of clients. It is vital to be able to do our job properly but unfortunately the key client contact is sometimes either too busy or, in some cases, doesn’t value sufficiently its importance. It will definitely become one of the most significant implementation functions in marketing in the near future and those who embrace this early will reap the rewards.
What does the future hold?
So, to 2014. Although not totally a unanimous view, there’s no doubting the vast majority of business leaders are expecting an upturn in the economy over the next 12 months. Those of our clients who’ve invested during the hard times and hopefully therefore increased market share, will now start to feel the inevitable effects of increased spend from competitors nipping at their heels, so I suspect much of our job will be focused on idea generation to help them stay a step ahead. One thing for sure, our integrated, full service abilities will become ever more important as the blurring of online and offline continues. Exciting times!
I wish all our clients and the fabulous team here at Chalk & Ward Advertising a very happy Christmas, new year and success in the year ahead.
– Robert Chalk (MD)