Four Key Marketing Ecosystem Trends

I have been fortunate enough to attend a few industry conferences over the last month in short succession, so I’ve been listening to marketers, media owners, agency heads and other assorted marketing ecosystem players.

What made all this extra interesting was that one conference covered Latin America (where I MC-ed various panels), and another, The Netherlands (where I keynoted). 

So I was privy to a great cross-section of hot topics, opinions, new ideas and great work.

Here are my key takeaways:

Trust and transparency are still huge issues, but marketers have moved from being victims to taking charge. From across Latin America to Europe, marketers showcased how they have taken marketing approaches such as programmatic, production, creative and other aspects in-house. 

Patrick Stal, Uber’s head of Marketing Europe, Middle East and Africa, shared that since the company took its programmatic advertising in-house, it has cut its investment and increased ad effectiveness. We have heard similar stories from P&G, L’Oreal and Unilever.



Agencies of all varieties are facing a huge and daunting task to find growth and meaning. But there is (as always) a silver lining. As they reinvent themselves, there are opportunities to bring back trust, rebuild meaningful relationships and be part of the marketing ecosystem (see also next point). 

Sir Martin Sorrell was on stage in Amsterdam, and he still seemed pleased with his now self-declared coconut-size S4Capital (up from peanut size). He sees opportunity in creative content and innovation, assets at scale, and platforms and e-commerce. 

MediaMonks is obviously a play in that space, but he was clear that he wanted his hands on “media” and he meant both traditional as well as digital. It is no secret that he is actively shopping in this space.

The evolution of in-housing. I have often warned that “in-housing” is not for the faint of heart and is a lot harder than some make it sound. It is a huge commitment to deliver and beat the market in cost, quality, innovation and speed in perpetuity versus whoever is your current supplier. 

It is probably better if you have size and scale, and if you are in a “real city” so that you have access to talent. But even there, the competition for talent is huge, so be prepared to pay! 

Many advertisers, realizing they may not have an easy task in filling in the org chart boxes as well as the tech requirements, are now exploring co-housing opportunities. This is where they partner with their agency or other providers and bring their people and technologies in-house, armed with a contract that ensures they report first and foremost to the client leadership. It is kind of a white-label solution on steroids. 

Purpose marketing — or meaningful marketing — matters. Marketers are realizing that if they just rely on their product’s awareness, they will be challenged by others who have adopted strategies that also explain how they are inclusive, green, responsible and/or politically aware. 

Witness a parade of creative work that shows inclusive workplaces and diverse users. Witness a whole host of brands that want you to know they source ecologically soundly, they preserve and conserve resources, and they treat their employees equally and fair. 

I have opined that, as part of meaningful marketing, marketers might also want to consider and demonstrate fair and transparent use of consumer data. This would go a long way toward repairing the current consumer data trust deficit.

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