State of the Digital Nation 2016
June 3, 2016 12:03 PM   Subscribe

A sweeping wave of acquisitions has decimated the ranks of independent agencies and formed two clashing clans. On the one side are the giants of advertising and marketing and on the other the titans of management consultancy. Meanwhile the market over which they are fighting is in the midst of a multi-faceted existential crisis.
Jules Ehrhardt presents the state of digital ad agencies in 2016, and how they are coping with ad blockers, the rise of apps, and the other massive changes in both media and consumption in the past few years.
posted by jenkinsEar (8 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
It may seem bizarre to claim that a $50B a year and growing industry is in peril. But whilst executives quaff rosé at the self-congratulatory circle jerk that is Cannes, Rome slowly burns.
This is a more optimistic document than I'd expected.
posted by brennen at 12:12 PM on June 3, 2016 [8 favorites]

Seems to dovetail well with Mary Meeker's annual Internet Trends report - from WaPo:

Still, the full potential for online advertising is far from realized. Advertisers and ad agencies are sticking with traditional media even as consumers have shifted their attention to the Internet and mobile devices in particular. Meeker estimates that advertiser inertia translates to under-spending on mobile to the tune of $22 billion. That’s a profound opportunity for players in the mobile ecosystem. It’s also a profound risk for traditional media.


Privacy and security issues are ticking time bombs in this otherwise uninterrupted success story. Internet users are highly conflicted about the implicit exchange of free or subsidized content and services for personalized advertising. Use of ad blockers is rising fast, and 50 percent of all consumers report being “very concerned” about how contextual information is used by Internet companies, even as they continue to provide more and more personal information to service providers. Without more aggressive self-policing by participants in the Internet ecosystem and consolidation of splintered and inconsistent privacy regulations both within the United States (the FCC vs. the FTC, for example) and abroad (the U.S. vs. the EU, for example), the innovation engine may seize.
posted by ryanshepard at 12:31 PM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

I came in expecting to read an article about how the content and advertising industries would deal with the existential threat of ad blocking and "free content." Instead I got a huge, corporate-startup-agency-jargon Mad Libs piece that I'm sure is actually very insightful but basically makes me want to move to Montana and buy a 200-acre ranch. The phrase "ad block" gets used exactly once in the article. ONCE. Even the word "block" itself only appears in two sections. The rest of the article is about client product solution agencies and corporate buyouts and maintaining a fertile creative culture and a whole lot of other stuff that really does feel like fiddling while Rome burns. The article spends a lot of time talking up digital product and how your digital product sucks and you aren't even involved in building it anymore because other people do that instead you big dummy, and nowhere does it seem to even discuss whether the unwashed masses want your product or why they might want it or not. Why are people blocking ads and tuning out from your marketing efforts? Who gives a shit? Here's my blueprint for the new vertically integrated design studio!

Or maybe I'm just not the agency executive/UX designer/management consultancy that this article is apparently aimed at. I am willing to venture that I am just not the target audience or am just too stupid/unwilling to take in its lessons.
posted by chrominance at 2:05 PM on June 3, 2016 [11 favorites]

Did it say that Google used to be a parasite on the host of advertising, or did I misread that part?
posted by clawsoon at 3:58 PM on June 3, 2016

Compare the bloat to the content.

There was maybe 40K of actual content there. Crufted out with several hundreds of MB of formatting and 3rd party content.

If all you have to offer is foisting crap down the bandwith throat of the final consumers, then you aren't doing your job well at all.

A truly clever advertising industry would find a way to draw customers in, rather than repel them.
posted by yesster at 4:28 PM on June 3, 2016 [4 favorites]

Maybe the piece itself is performance art, satirizing the very problems that it fails to address?
posted by -1 at 8:15 AM on June 4, 2016 [5 favorites]

It seems to me advertising is another one of those industries/cultural phenomena of the contemporary world where we've lost the spirit of the thing and are basically putting the cart before the horse now. Advertising should be a sort of secondary, supplementary market that makes trade in valuable and helpful goods and services more effective and efficient. It should be less manipulative, more informative, an aid to life and commerce, but not the point of it. The more the ad industry itself becomes the focus of economic activity and industry, the less useful it becomes, and the more social/cultural/economic problems we end up with due to deceptive or just plain superfluous advertising for profit.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:27 PM on June 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

A sweeping wave of acquisitions has decimated the ranks of independent agencies and formed two clashing clans. On the one side are the giants of advertising and marketing and on the other the titans of management consultancy
A dreadful silence fell across the conference table as the commander of the Vl'hurgs, resplendent in his black jewelled battle shorts, gazed levelly at the G'Gugvuntt leader squatting opposite him in a cloud of green sweet-smelling steam, and challenged the vile creature to take back what it had said about his mother.
posted by Herodios at 10:02 AM on June 6, 2016

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