Advertising and Marketing Professionals Discuss a Changing Field

Salt Lake City—Adapt or die has always been the reality for the advertising and marketing field. The adage has never held truer for the industry than now. Such were the opinions of around 15 advertising and marketing professionals that met for Utah Business magazine’s annual industry roundtable on Wednesday morning. The group reflected on the recent changes to the industry, what consumers want, and how their respective companies work to reach the broadest possible audience.

“For me, the biggest overall change is the lack of time the consumer is willing to give you to share your message,” said Andrew Melchior, VP and partner at Avalaunch Media. “You used to have maybe minutes—now you have seconds. You have to convey your message in a very quick format, and I think that’s why visual content has become more prevalent in the space.”

The change makes for a complete shift in creative thinking for advertisers. “When you go from a finely-crafted 30-second spot to a 6 second video, it has tons of implications on how you plan strategically, what you surround that content with and how you target that content,” said David Blain, president at Saxton Horne. “There’s a compression of time, compression of content, compression of thinking.”

The Millennial and mobile-attuned audiences of today want more out of the brands they interact with and the advertising they consume. Forbes magazine states that Millennials don’t respond to focused advertising the way that previous generations did—so advertisers have to be smart in how they cater to them.

“It’s going to a whole other level where people are expecting content that is catered to them specifically based on where they’re at where they’re using their device, or what the history is using that site,” said Bill Brady, president and CMO of EKR. “Content is actually coming to them catered to exactly what they need in that moment. That’s a big opportunity for marketing.”

Furthermore, said Brad Plothow, partner at Method Communications, people want to feel good about the brands they’re supporting. More and more, consumers want to be part of the brand experience rather than a silent and receptive audience. “Engagement with customers, and expectation of them being part and parcel of the conversation around what the brand means, is here,” he said.

Still, according to Mike Chase, president and founder of Chase Marketing Group, changing philosophies and strategies for the mobile-focused audience doesn’t have to create anxiety for advertisers. Instead of looking at the compression as a bad thing, Chase says it simply creates accountability—and more opportunities for advertisers to react and course-correct.

“What digital forces us to do is be accountable to the client. What you can do with that accountability is you can very seriously reach out and target a consumer now than you could have years ago, much easier [and] much more cost-efficient than you could,” he said. “One of the challenges of being accountable is if you haven’t done your homework. One of the good things about being accountable you can make changes almost instantaneously.”

With all the changes in the field, Todd Wolfenbarger, president and partner at the Summit Group, says that advertisers and marketing professionals need to love what they do and be curious, not afraid, of the changing landscape. “If you’re not curious, you’re not going to survive in this industry… it’s reinvented every year,” he said. “If you’re curious, it feels like a toy box. If you’re not, it feels like a dentist’s chair.”

Read the full conversation in the April issue of Utah Business magazine. Paul Dishman, professor at Utah Valley University, moderated the discussion.