Commentary

A Look Back, A New Year -- And Baby Yoda

As I look back on 2019 and toward 2020, there are three specific things I take away from what I have seen in the advertising industry this past year.  

First, there have been a ton of major shake-ups — many at the highest level — at various agencies and holding companies over the last few months.  To me, that means one of two things:  Either the leadership wanted to change because they felt that had accomplished what they set out to do, or agencies needed change to respond to the challenges facing their business.

If I were a betting man, I would be betting on the second option.  Agencies have been struggling to find a way to retain their margins in an increasingly pressured and competitive environment.  

From my perspective, the rise of the gig economy and the expansion of freelance resources have put a dent in the agency category.  It is less expensive and more effective to hire contractors than it is to hire agencies.  This is coupled with the ever-changing data landscape, which is dominated by large consulting firms adding to the pressure on agencies.

The second trend was the dismissal of data-management platforms from major brand marketers’ tech stacks.  

The promise of DMPs seems to have faded a bit — not because data is not important, but because the data that is most important is consolidated in platforms where the majority of dollars are being spent.

DMPs were about enabling data into a single platform for use everywhere you spent money.  If you only spend your money on a few channels like Google, Facebook and Amazon, why invest in a DMP?

It pains me to say this, but the DMP is less a must-have than maybe it was before this consolidation of spend.

The last trend was… Baby Yoda.  Baby Yoda, a character on the Disney+ series “Star Wars: The Mandalorian,” has become the cultural icon of 2019.  He symbolizes innocence and rebirth.  He also stands for the immediate impact of Disney+  and other streaming services that grew in importance in the last 12 months.  

Baby Yoda is arguably the centerpiece of  “The Mandalorian,” although we don’t yet know his significance.  All we know is those little eyes can slay you with just a glance, and he has the power of the force in him.  Disney had the force in 2019 and probably will in 2020 and beyond.

This is my last column of the year.  As we wrap up 2019, I am entering into my 20th year writing every Wednesday for MediaPost.  It has been a great run, and I look forward to the next 20.  Happy, holidays everyone.  See you next year!

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