In case you haven’t noticed, things have changed a lot in the advertising and marketing industry. With bigger bandwidth and faster, smaller, cheaper digital devices, the world is staggeringly more connected. With home-grown, artisanal wine, cheese, whiskey . . . pants . . . the world is a lot more “local” as well.  And, of course, all of the choices you make – whether it’s the restaurant where you just ate, the starlet you just Googled or the selfie you just posted to Instagram – are obsessively observed, analyzed, and sold to by advertisers and marketers.

So we got to wondering, what does it mean to be a creative in today’s world? How many “legs” does an idea have to have when advertisers and marketers are targeting various demographics, each using multiple media devices and social media platforms? And does having all that data mean you or anyone else knows how to use it?

We posed these questions to Chief Creative Officers at some of the world’s leading ad agencies and will be posting their responses here over the next few weeks. Together, they should give us an interesting take on the state of advertising creative today.

I sat down with Steve Simpson the Chief Creative Officer at Ogilvy & Mather North America to discuss the state of the creative today.

In this new era of data and technology, what has been the fundamental change for creative?

Creatives now have the remarkable ability to learn from their work after it appears. We are never launched, we are never done and dusted, and we operate in a continual state of launch. We all get second (and more) chances to do it better.

What does it mean to be a creative today?

The days of the copywriter doing the copy part and the art director doing the art part now seem quaint, childlike, and pathetically touching. A creative today takes on many more diverse responsibilities and possesses and uses many more talents. But these talents, although expanding all the time, are finite. We need to rely on experts, and part of our success is being good “expert locators” to do for us what we can’t do ourselves anymore.

Continue Reading State of the Creative Series: Interview with Chief Creative Officer at Ogilvy & Mather North America

A phenomenon that has been present as a form of advertising for many years is now blossoming in digital media and the subject of much discussion in the industry:  native advertising.  Native advertising is content that promotes a brand or product in the native format of the website, publication, or platform in which it is presented.  Native advertising looks different for each medium – for instance, a Sponsored Story on Facebook, Featured Partner content on BuzzFeed, a branded or promoted playlist on Spotify, or a traditional advertorial page in a magazine are all types of native advertising.

As more advertising dollars flow away from traditional display advertising into native advertising, the seamless integration of brand messaging into entertainment, news, and other content that native advertising provides has generated concern and debate over the need for adequate disclosure and guidelines to ensure that consumers are aware that the content is advertising as well as the need to keep the content consistent with advertisers and publishers’ core brand values so that consumers will remain engaged.

Last week, the head of Google’s webspam team published a YouTube video reminding advertisers and agencies that they must clearly disclose that native advertising content is advertising, including links that they pay content creators to include in content or paid search links purchased through Google, which consumers may otherwise believe are freely-endorsed or top-ranked pages.  This is not a new issue for the publisher or advertisers who participate in paid search placement, and was highlighted by the FTC in a 2002 letter responding to Commercial Alert’s complaint against search engine companies alleging that consumers were misled to believe that search results are based on relevancy or actual page clicks, when they were really based on paid placement.  The FTC declined to take action against the companies then, but issued warning letters recommending that search engine companies ensure that paid search results are clearly and conspicuously disclosed to consumers.

The Way I See It

  • I see publishers, content creators, blogs, advertisers, and agencies beginning to pay more attention to the business and legal issues surrounding native advertising, with an emphasis on more clear disclosure that native ads are paid content while striving to retain the organic, seamless qualities that make native advertising effective.
  • Many publishers will, like The Atlantic recently did after a negative reaction from its readers to a native blog post sponsored by the Church of Scientology, revise their editorial guidelines focused on how native advertising will be formatted, styled, and disclosed.
  • Continue Reading Native Advertising Isn’t New, but Considerations for Advertisers Are Just Heating Up

It’s hard to believe it’s already mid-November.  The Presidential election is now behind us and the devastation of Hurricane Sandy is still all too real for many on the East Coast.  This week, many in the marketing and promotion industry are heading to the Windy City for the 34th Annual Promotion Marketing Association Marketing Law Conference.  This year’s conference is titled, “Converging Platforms & Diverging Laws” and I’m honored to be giving a keynote address again this year.  Throughout the PMA Conference this week, I’ll be sharing my thoughts and perspectives with you.

The Promotion Marketing Association is one of the largest and most influential industry trade associations and has been since its inception in 1911.  PMA represents businesses that motivate behavior, activate response and build brands.  These disciplines include promotion, shopper/retailer, digital, sponsorship and experiential marketing.

The Way I See It

  • I see the PMA’s Annual Law Conference helping marketers and agencies understand the implications of new developments, regulatory updates, legislation, and the effect of new technologies shaping the marketing world.
  • I see candid presentations, panels, and conversations on the critical issues facing the industry:  digital and mobile, data and privacy data security, shopper marketing, the role of the regulators – Federal, state and local, self-regulation, consumer direct action, protection of children, and so much more.
  • I see the PMA changing as the industry changes, and I see the influence of PMA increasing as the industry grows and gains even greater influence.

The Way the Industry Sees It

I sat down with Bonnie Carlson, the President of PMA, to give you an inside look at what is planned for this year’s Marketing Law Conference, current issues driving PMA’s work in the industry, and how PMA – and the industry – has changed since its inception just over 100 years ago.

I can’t believe it’s time again for the PMA Annual Marketing Law Conference. Can you give us some insight as to what the title of this year’s conference, “Converging Platforms & Diverging Laws,” means and how the panels and sessions aim to address it?

The title is a reflection of the continuing evolution of traditional media/tactics converging with new technology and the challenges this brings legally, often pioneering new ground and testing principles such as self-regulation, marketing to children and First Amendment rights.  Consumers are influenced by a myriad of media and are connected globally, especially because of the internet and social media, which also challenges the overlap or divergence of international and federal/state laws.

This year’s program really touches upon the key topics and issues brands and marketers face – the rise of social media, the importance of the mobile platform, the new regulations and regulators (like the CFPB), the focus on consumer activation, and the need to succeed in a global economy.  Given the developments during the past few months alone, what do you think will be the main themes driving your industry next year?

The consumer will continue to be in charge, expecting more transparency, authenticity and value from brands.  Marketers and retailers will continue to be pressured to do more with less, to advance new technology, stay competitive with a speed-to-market mentality, and have accountability for results.  On the legal side, the themes will be a focus on privacy rules (dot com guidelines, mobile app, and International data privacy rules), renewed attention to the COPPA rules, health and food claims, and cyber cafes.

Continue Reading Gearing Up for the 34th Annual PMA Marketing Law Conference