Forecasting the Next 1,000 Years of Advertising

If you’re in the marketing or advertising industry, you’re bombarded ad nauseum, by articles protesting the death of traditional advertising media. How TV is on the outs, and the growth of digital is eating into media dollars previously earmarked for these traditional mediums.  But while these industry experts source reputable data in their forecasts, I always feel they’re missing part of a bigger picture.

Great advertising is media agnostic.  Looking back on the campaigns people love, it’s clear that creative work is about culture and crafting the illusive sense of cool. In fact, at its best, integrated campaigns span media channels with an immensely potent idea, that can reach different types of people in a variety of articulations. But when it comes to a great campaign, you rarely remember where the idea came from. You just remember the idea: “Got Milk?”

Agency clients are the most likely audience for these media forecasts, in which  interactive marketing is synonymous with site banner ads, and online video buys. But can you remember the last time you clicked on a banner ad? Or better yet, a time when you got so excited about an online ad you told a friend about it? The fact is media buys are not creative work. You can spend your client’s money to buy eyeballs, but consumers respond to experiences, not banners. They appreciate ideas, not being bombarded. We’re excited by things that delight us with surprise, and make our lives easier, and that will never change.

And here’s the real problem: since the inception of corporations and business, there’s been an increasing focus from clients on justifying every dollar spent, and quantifying every decision. But great work, any kind of work, stems from the gut and from the creative process. Be it a tech start-ups or a global ad agency, you can’t quantify an original idea, you’ve just gotta have some faith and tolerance for risk.

I’d like to forecast the future for the next one hundred years of business. Yes, here and now, let’s calculate the future of adverting: the greater the risk, the bigger the reward.