Ad Future is a Platform

Content providers like Netflix, Amazon, Spotify and Hulu have long understood the power of digital platforms. In fact, they started with a platform as a foundation to achieve brand growth and scale quickly.

Many ad agencies, however, are still holding on to their service-driven business model focusing on creating profit from talent markups and inefficiencies. But simply messaging a brand’s promise is antiquated now that consumers demand consistent and personalized brand experiences. Agencies need to work on fulfilling the brand promise, and leveraging the right technologies that can get us there. AT&T’s Advertising and Analytics CEO Brian Lesser puts it best by saying: "The future state of the ad business is a platform business".

Now some bigger players in the field are also adhering to this trend. Last week Omnicom announced their new AI tool Omni, a Marketing and Insights platform that tracks consumers across all practices. Earlier this year, Publicis launched Marcel to optimize internal workflows through AI. WPP’s former leader Sorrell (now S4 Capital) also just announced his comeback with an aggressive focus on tech, data and content.

While for startups it is a given to leverage and build digital products, it will be interesting to watch these large holding companies finally trying to catch up and look beyond media solutions. Great examples for pushing the ad agency business further towards a tech-centric approach are BullishYou & Mr. Jones and other boutique shops.

For the holding companies, building out a tech stack is only the first step. Equally important is the need to adjust their entire business model to support this new brand strategy. Holding companies and large corporates should ask themselves questions like:

How can we implement a new corporate culture to shift to a digital and tech-centric culture?
How do platforms shift the effectiveness and creativity of our workforce?
How can we leverage the tech stack and AI to enable meaningful brand experiences?

At Chinatown Bureau we believe that technology is not an end solution.

Tech is an enabler to drive the shift from a brand message to actually fulfilling a brand promise. 

What do you think about the shift to platforms? Can giants learn from tech companies? How can startups help trigger this digital transformation?

Marie Berry