During the first decades of the 21st century, at least, advertisers will still use 20th century methods, such as print, TV, and radio broadcasts to propagate their clients’ messages. But other innovative methods are strengthening and people in advertising jobs need to adapt. “Advertising as we know it is in crisis and its mental model has to be challenged,” was the message that Jerry Wind, director of the SEI Center’s “Future of Advertising” Project at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania relayed to executives at a conference.
People in the field have embraced social media, such as YouTube and Facebook. But they are still learning how to use these systems effectively and to understand both the advantages and disadvantages of social media. Other Internet ad media is also evolving rapidly, including large networks such as Google AdWords. No one knows what the next technological advance might be.
One big advantage to using social media and Internet is the huge amount of information that can be applied when it comes to targeting customers. Websites gather a lot of demographic information—age, sex, salary range, likes and dislikes. This information can be mined to develop the ad campaign that will exactly target that customer. For example, if you know what TV shows your ideal customer watches, you can plan ads not only during that show, but also target people on Facebook who list that show as a favorite. Because it is possible to drill down to target niche groups, firms will have to develop a variety of ad strategies to cover the audience once held by major television or radio networks. The media innovations have splintered the audience into much smaller pieces and it will require a different plan to reach them all. However, the precise targeting available through Internet resources makes this possible. The challenge is for agencies to develop strategies to take advantage of these changes.
Another big change is that the relationships between ad agency and client company as well as relationships between company and customer have become more interactive. Companies are encouraging customer feedback, even allowing customers to blog about a company’s products or services or post their own reviews on the Internet or using social media. This unrestrained customer interaction is not controlled by the company or its advertisers, so it is a completely different and sometimes unnerving situation.
Because of the changes we can already see, and many that are unknown to us now, the field will continue to change dramatically. Ad agencies will need employees who can adapt and take advantage of these changes. Recent college graduates may have the edge because they have used social media for years. Older people in the field would do well to learn the new technology and continue to pursue the new ideas that will come along in the future. New job titles, such as social media ad manager or Internet target researcher may be coming.
The ads of the future will combine all media, from traditional print and broadcast to social media to whatever innovation comes along. Professionals will have to be ready to harness all the possibilities into effective campaigns for their clients.
Qualities of Someone in the Advertising Field
People who excel in this field, especially as salespeople or account executives, have excellent people skills. They understand how people think and what makes them act, so that they can produce the right advertising. They know how to target the right audience and how to make a connection with them. An outstanding message presented in a winning package is useless if the message is not reaching the right audience.
A good candidate for this type of career also has strong interpersonal communications skills. They know not only how to talk to people as individuals or in groups, but they also know the importance of listening intently and responding appropriately. They understand nonverbal communications as well, and they know how to use these skills in building relationships and in negotiating conflict. They must know how to use persuasion to create effective campaigns for their clients.
Successful people will be highly motivated. They know what they are aiming at and they are good at making a plan to reach their goal. Adaptability and flexibility are also important characteristics. When a campaign is not working, they are able to recognize that fact and change the message to achieve the desired effect.
Creativity is a crucial component for the person in these careers, whether working in the graphic arts, or planning and conducting campaigns. The creativity can be seen not only in the words used, but in the way they are presented, the techniques employed, and the overall message or theme. A successful advertiser understands the impact of the images, as well as the whole package. Taking the qualities of a company and turning them into an effective campaign is a creative effort.
A good employee for an agency will have excellent customer support skills. He must be able to listen and understand the goal of the customer, the importance of the campaign to the client business, and how the ad agency can best meet that goal. This support may require late hours or tight deadlines, especially when a campaign has to be changed.
Another important trait is attention to detail. Many times it is the smallest detail that brings an advertisement, whether print or digital, to life. Lack of attention to detail causes a person to be so disorganized that deadlines are not met, which can have a negative impact not only on the advertisement, but on the employee’s career.
Another item to add to the list is sales ability. The ability to listen to a customer, grasp the needed effect of a campaign or ad, and develop and present a campaign are of little value if the saleperson does not have the needed skills to close the sale. This trait is crucial for the income of the agency, as well as for the campaigns that are executed. Customers spend substantial amounts of money for ad campaigns and they want reassurance that they will receive value from their money. The same value must be presented in every ad and campaign planned for customers, so that clients feel that they get the value they paid for.
Finally, excellent time management skills and multi-tasking abilities are also required. They are often working on several campaigns at the same time and they must know how to keep up with each one and not fall behind deadline on any.