The facades of empires always look most impressive just before they fall.
The same goes for industrial giants and even whole industries.
The Roman Empire didn’t disappear. Neither did the British. But the centre of power in the world shifted, first chaotically, confusingly and then all of a sudden when the fog of revolution cleared.
Newspapers haven’t disappeared. Record labels haven’t disappeared. But there was a storm of change, a half-decade or so of intense uncertainty in each industry as it was ravaged by digital disruption. And then… new power structures and new masters emerged.
Media companies won’t disappear either, but their place at the centre of the brand marketing system is ending.
To Google and Facebook the advertising revenues, away from the media owners, at an expanding an inexorable rate. To automation and in-house teams and consultancies go the muscle and the influence once held by the media buying agencies.
Image: Scott Galloway/L2Insights
The CMO’s closest advisor ten years ago, maybe even five, would have worked for a media agency. Now, it could be a chief digital officer, a management consultant, a creative technologist, even an author or similar species of seer.
The new order has yet to emerge, but the days of the media agency as the centre of the brand marketing system is ending.
The levers that improve the fortunes of a brand – its awareness among target consumers, their proclivity for it at the right moment – are more complex now because consumers are changing their media habits and the way they find and buy things they want. The big lever you used to pull was called media.
Now, as things move faster and more unpredictably, brands want the tech and the know-how to be closer to home, something they can call on in the moment, without a day rate or delays. In-house.
What makes the difference in a global brand marketing organisation isn’t the ability to pull the trigger on media – it’s the capabilities to think and act at the speed of the digital consumer. Capability – from technical and data know-how to a digital mindset – more than media muscle alone, is what will set leading brands apart in the coming decade.
Marketing, then, is moving from media to capability as its focus.