4A’s Attendees Predict How the Ad Industry Will Evolve Over the Next 5 Years

Marketers offered thoughts on everything from diversity to tech to the agency model

Marketers at the 4A's 2018 Accelerate conference predict major changes to the industry 5 years from now
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Almost every facet of the advertising industry is in upheaval, leading marketers to agree on one thing, if nothing else—that five years down the road, the landscape for them is going to look vastly different than it does today.

And, rather than dwelling on everything that could go wrong as the industry evolves, most who attended the 4A’s Accelerate conference in Miami this past week looked to the future through rose-tinted glasses—predicting, for example, that diversity will take hold at last and clients and their agency partners will finally resolve their various relationship issues.

Anomaly group strategy director Laura Rowan, for example, said she sees “the abuse of power” within agency culture dissolving.

“I really hope that we’re still not talking about diversity being underrepresented,” Rowan noted. “There’s actual pockets [of the industry] where there’s behavior that just isn’t equal or fair to certain groups of people.”

Here’s what some of advertising’s other brightest minds predict will be the biggest changes to the industry five years from now.

Debby Reiner, CEO, Grey NY

“I hope we won’t be talking about the future of client-agency partnerships and whether partnership will exist in the future. Will clients and agencies have an ongoing relationship? Will that AOR relationship continue to be important? I hope in five years we will have worked through that.”

"The superficial search for diversity just for political reasons will hopefully be replaced by authentic diversity in motion."
Luis Miguel Messianu, Alma

Sean Reardon, CEO, Zenith USA

“Banners, I hope. A lot of the precision and programmatic stuff that we’re spending a lot of time on [we should shift away from]. All media agencies can produce more targeted banners than emails. I hope all of our data and technology will have a more profound outcome.”

Darren McColl, global chief brand and marketing officer, SapientRazorfish

“I think media and creative will be integrated. I think that’s happening aggressively now. But I think we will redefine what creativity is. We will redefine the advertising industry; we will look at it as a true creative industry that partners with clients to solve problems.”

Robin Shapiro, global president, TBWA\WorldHealth

“I hope the whole digital agency concept goes away. To me, it’s one of those areas of specialization that reflects the past not the future. Everything is digital. If you have to say you’re a digital agency, what is going on?”

"I don't think these large holding companies will be so dependent on massive consumer packaging companies. ... That model is breaking."
Frances Webster, Walrus

Kathleen Brookbanks, chief operating officer, Hearts & Science

“Ad agencies won’t have dedicated teams for a client. The way we service clients will be radically different. You’ll have to explain ‘we had account people, accounting planning people and so on, and these people were full-time people and these people were part time.’ [Future generations] will have no idea what you’re talking about. There will be specialization, but it will depend on what a client needs in a moment of time.”

Louis Jones, executive vice president of media & data, 4A’s

“Five years from now I think we’ll want to say that we’ve helped the industry come up with better tools because there’s the issue of technology and capturing brand safety at scale. Only technology can help us in that way.”

Luis Miguel Messianu, creative chairman and CEO, Alma

“The superficial search for diversity just for political reasons will hopefully be replaced by authentic diversity in motion.”

David Angelo, chairman and founder, David & Goliath

“With the exponential explosion of content and media tools, I really believe that it’s all going to come together as one. You can be responsible for creating content, producing it, putting it out there for select media. I really believe it’s all going to come together where people will be wearing more hats than they ever had in the past.”

"There will be new forms of fraud but the middlemen arbitrage schemes will be gone, to a large degree."
Alanna Gombert, MetaX

@kitten_mouse lindsay.rittenhouse@adweek.com Lindsay Rittenhouse is a staff writer at Adweek, where she specializes in covering the world of agencies and their clients.