Advertising and Marketing Professionals Consider Effective Use of New Tech

Salt Lake City—In an industry so reliant on staying in tune with current technology, how do advertising and marketing professionals stay abreast of all relevant marketing mediums?

“Ask your kids,” laughed David Blain, president of Saxton Horne.

The question was among many posed to the professionals in attendance at the annual Utah Business Advertising and Marketing roundtable that took place last week at Holland & Hart’s downtown Salt Lake City office. The current appetite for advertising in Utah, the usage of new media in the industry, the state of workforce development, and the role of traditional media were all also discussed.

With so many new forms of social media—along with everchanging trends, fountains of memes and ever-shortening attention spans—advertising and marketing specialists could drive themselves crazy trying to keep up with everything.

“I used to try to [immerse myself in everything.] I came from a technology background, and I said: ‘I got this,’” said Mike Brian, partner and COO of Penna Powers. “But I don’t care what kind of bike you’re on, you can’t pedal that fast. You’re going in one direction and all of a sudden Instagram comes out, and you’re going ‘WHAT? What’s a hashtag?’ They come out of a clear blue sky and all of a sudden, the entire country is involved in this thing, and you don’t know what it is. It moved out of your peripheral.”

What can result, says Brian, is agencies immediately plunging into the deep end of a new technology, whether it’s fully understood or not—and having to sift through the resulting data to figure out what that technology is really good for, in the end.

“We all jump in there thinking ‘Okay, QR codes—everybody go!’ The next think you know, you have QR codes on the face of a person on a magazine ad, trying to embrace this new thing that came out, until everybody realizes what it’s going to be good for,” he said. “When something like that comes out, our industry has to go full-throttle to find out where it’s applicable, where it can work, where it can be effective, and what the value is in it.”

To keep a more measured approach, Bill Brady, president and CO of EKR, said he realizes it’s impossible for one person to be the expert in everything. “It’s never my goal to be the expert on every new technology,” he said. “It would just be overwhelming. But I want to try to know enough to understand what I don’t know and know where to hire the people to fill in the gaps and provide the expertise in the areas that we need.”

Delegation, in that case, can be the key to ad agencies keeping abreast of the new technologies. Brian said that knowledge of new technology can come from the most random places in the agency—sometimes the receptionist, he says, is the first person to know about something new. In order to keep that information flowing throughout the company, Adam Stoker, CEO of Relic, says his company creates committees.

“Keeping track of the big picture is a challenge. We’ve had to create different committees within our own staff. One of them, we call the Innovation Committee, which focuses on product innovation within the industry and then presents it to the team periodically. That’s been a good way for us to keep up on the new technology that comes around the industry,” he said.

With conversation and information being disseminated throughout the agency, ad executives can more easily figure out what platform is best for which clients. “You can test and try until you hit gold and scale with certain clients—but it’s definitely not one-size fits all with all this new technology. But some of it can be really effective, really powerful, and really affordable for your customers,” said Kelly Shelton, VP of marketing for Boostability.

The roundtable was moderated by Brian Jorgensen, marketing division chair and associate professor at Westminster College. Read the full conversation in the April issue of Utah Business.