Agency Agita Lurks at Advertising Week
By Suzanne Vranica
At this year's Advertising Week gathering in New York, attendees will get a heavy dose of discussion about the future of marketing and how new technologies such as artificial intelligence and voice assistants may transform marketing.
But beneath the promises of an exciting tomorrow, attendees at the schmoozefest will also be confronting the enormous pressures facing the agencies at the heart of the business of advertising.
The world's biggest advertising companies, such as WPP PLC and Interpublic Group of Cos., are dealing with the slowest revenue growth since the recession and tumbling stock prices. Lackluster growth has brought broader concerns about the health of the agency business into sharp relief, with pressures coming from the pullback in spending from belt-tightening industries such as consumer package goods, the dramatic evolution of technology, and the emergence of new competitors.
As Google and Facebook continue to dominate digital advertising, the technology behemoths aren't escaping criticism themselves, as marketers look for more assurances about the effectiveness and quality of online ads.
On top of that, the very idea of convincing someone to buy a product using advertising is also being called into question, as consumers increasingly block disruptive ads and turn to the plethora of new commercial-free entertainment options.
"As an advertiser, I must tell you ads are dead," read a recent tweet from Lou Paskalis, senior vice president of media and investment for Bank of America. "The future is about things people want, not things they have to endure."
Mr. Paskalis says that marketing now must be "engineered to be relevant in order to engage an audience."
The festival is expected to tackle many of these thorny issues, as thousands of advertising, marketing, technology and media executives descend on Manhattan for the 14th annual Advertising Week conference, which will include 2 40 seminars, 52 workshops and countless parties.