Software Is Eating Marketing -- And Your Job
On March 27, 2013, Christopher Mimms followed this idea with an article on Quartz titled “How The Internet Is Making Us Poor,” in which he reviewed the economic and societal consequences of software eating the world. This article does not paint a happy future for white-collar workers.
Many start-ups are founded on a belief that an existing product, utility or service is cumbersome, outdated or run by lazy companies refusing to innovate. So move over, we can do it better and cheaper with this algorithm.
In marketing we have sort of considered ourselves part of the start-up world, happily playing along while killing the print industry, radio, journalism -- and, a little more reluctantly, television. We are hobnobbing, slightly star-struck, with Mark Zuckerberg, Marissa Mayer or Eric Schmidt, and pushing advertisers into any and all digital media.
But don’t be fooled: Your job security is as much at risk as if you were, say, operating yellow cabs, manufacturing thermostats or selling razors. The Internet is eating marketing and advertising jobs. You’re a target.
I base this on some recent news as well as what I am learning from the work I am doing with a few companies who are specifically in the business of automating parts of the marketing and advertising ecoystem.
Matt Seiler, CEO of IPG Mediabrands, last year announced that his company was to automate 50% of all media buys (not just digital!) within the next three years. The company is one year in and on track to fulfill its goal over the remaining two years. I am betting that the recent merger of WPP’s Xaxis and 24/7 was completed with the same idea in mind.
If the U.S. stock market is any indication of potential implications, consider that in 2004, just over 25% of all Wall Street trades were automated, and that by 2012 this number had risen to about 65%. What would it mean for the jobs of media buyers and sellers if 50%+ of all media buys were traded real-time through software?
Another company has developed a fully automated real-time auditing system of all elements of a company’s digital output. The software works across all platforms (Web, mobile, social, search, etc.) and allows marketers to assess very quickly if their digital presence and/or activation is technically effective, searchable, findable, shareable, readable, etc. And it generates the same report for your nearest competitors or industry leaders so you can develop a strategy on how and where to improve. Gone are the days when you had your agency (or an intern) compile manual reports -- which were always incomplete, after the fact and labor-intensive.
If you are a marketer looking for an advertising agency, there is an algorithm that will allow you to play “match.com” and find potential suitable creative partners. If you need brand photography, you can now crowd-source this function through a new service that just got launched and funded. Then there’s a VC placing big bets on start-ups that will replace and improve many marketing tasks.
So software is eating the world, yours included. The only questions are “How fast?” and "Now what?"