by: Amanda Grieshaber

With digital technology taking over and over 160,000 jobs cut in advertising, how could this mean a bright future for us?

Traditional Advertising v. Digital Technology

Digital technology is wiping out traditional advertising jobs faster than you can say “Leo Burnett.”  With over 160, 000 advertising jobs  lost in the past two years, Digital Technology is literally taking out the traditional advertising.

There really hasn’t been much change to the ad business in over 50 years.  Ever since Bernbach (Creative Director at DDB) decided to have the Copywriter and Art Director join forces, ad production has operated in an assembly line – simple and predictable. The Internet, paired with the recession and a few other factors, has destroyed the idea of the assembly line, not only in ad agencies, but in most other businesses as well.  Digital technology is fast-paced and evolving rapidly, creating chaos for those who are not used to it–it is change, and change is never easy. 

To help facilitate this inevitable change, Hyper Island, a digital-based school in Sweden, hosted a workshop helping once advertising “elitists” deal with the craziness of digital technology.  The workshop promised to drag the now “digital immigrants” into the 21st century. The instructors dragging them were considered “digital natives.” For participants, the workshop either felt like an introduction to today’s marketing rules or like a “communal hazing.”

During the workshop, instructors taught that creative teams should be more like improv groups – – continually building off of an idea rather re-telling an entire story – – so they are able to respond quickly to an unpredictable audience.  Marketing needs to be useful; it needs to think in the mind of the user rather than in the mind of its old role as the entertainer.  While traditional advertising is  a perfect science, promising impeccably finished, glossy concepts before being given to the client, digital technology is  cumulative and is constantly growing and improving.  The digital world can be considered “perpetual beta”and is never finished.

An instructor workshop warned participants, “Digital will f*** you up and the way your agencies are built to make money, staff things, price things.  You guys have to change your DNA, and you’re going to have tough decisions.”

Digital technology is lean, fast, and efficient.  The tough decisions the instructor was talking about was deciding where to trim the fat of the agency.  The biggest problem with ad agencies is that there is way too much excess: too many people, too much bulge, too much inefficiency.  

Nobody can say what the future will look like for the advertising industry, however we do know that agencies will have to slim down to become more efficient and flexible. They will have to get on board with the digital tsunami hitting, or they will be left behind.

So does this mean we are all screwed and should change majors?  No!  There is actually a future full of hope for us! However unsettling digital technology may seem, it is also full of possibilities for us youngsters. For once, newbs will have the upper hand over the more experienced crowd. We grew up with digital technology…we actually know how to use it!

Most of the men and women who attended the workshop in Sweden, the New York “advertising elitists,” were on average 38 and had worked at agencies for over 10 years, at least.  In the past, it would be would be hard to compete with that kind of experience.  But now, companies consider experience more of a liability: like an old dog that can’t learn new tricks.  Companies are realizing that coding is now more valuable over copywriting.  And believe it or not, a résumé that includes Xbox and Google can be more desirable than one that has experience at BBDO or Grey!   

There is not just an admiration for our knowledge and experience with digital technology in the advertising world, there is an actual need.  Companies need us more than ever! Our knowledge is a gold mine to the ad industry.

My Suggestion? – Submerge yourself in digital technology in any and every possible way you can. Digital experience will be your biggest asset when job hunting after graduation.




Written by Ad Buzz

The American Advertising Federation Illinois Chapter brings to you Ad Buzz, a blog dedicated to all things advertising related, from our favorite campaigns to trends going on in the industry.

One comment

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