Marketer-technologists for agencies

Earlier this week, Adweek published An Open Letter to the CEO of WPP that I wrote as a guest columnist.

WPP is one of the top advertising holding companies in the world — up there with Omnicom, Publicis, and Interpublic. Its more well-known subsidiaries include Ogilvy, Young & Rubicam, and J. Walter Thompson.

The reason for my letter was to dissuade WPP from fighting Google and Microsoft directly to get a piece of the current “ad network” gold rush frenzy. My main points were:

  1. Ad networks may not dominate online marketing as much as their early hype would suggest.
  2. Rather than fight over ad networks and technical gadgetry, the major agencies would do better pursuing a strategy that elevates effective “creative” to the top of the value chain.

They can do this by:

  • expanding the scope of advertising to include post-click marketing;
  • bringing more marketer-technologists into their teams to leverage technology as part of the creative;
  • and organizing their industry to force ad networks and technology providers to more open standards and greater transparency.

As I’ve written about before on this blog, I strongly believe that the future of marketing will thrive on an intersection with computer science and career paths for marketer-technologists — led by chief marketing technologist executives. This will hold true for agencies as well as in-house marketers.

Quoting from my letter in Adweek:

…you must absorb marketing technology savvy into your DNA. Although creative cannot be bottled into a computer program, the nature of creative is changing. More than ever the message and the medium are fused together. You need to wield targeting and tracking software as part of the creative mission. To do this, your companies need to be populated with marketer-technologists — a new career track tightly integrated into your core business.

This is the key to competing with technology companies: You must show that the real value is not in the tools themselves but in the way in which they are employed as part of marketing strategy, creative and execution.

Click here for the full letter.

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