The first half of 2023 was, to put it bluntly, a bloodbath for layoffs in the world of major marketing platforms (most significantly Meta, Alphabet, and Amazon).
At the same time, those companies, specifically Meta and Alphabet, have made huge and very public investments in AI for advertising.
There’s a probable connection between the two here: while the layoffs have hit advertising support layers particularly hard, the platforms could be planning on leveraging AI and chatbot support to help advertisers navigate their ecosystems.
It’s been about six years since I worked to support startup brands with business and advertising guidance as a founding member of Facebook’s Disruptors team. Although platform ecosystems have changed radically since then, I know firsthand from running an advertising agency that brands today face many of the same urgent questions and challenges in working with powerhouse advertising platforms.
It’s clear from a lot of on-the-ground conversations I’m having with marketers in my network that they’re struggling to get those questions answered in the wake of the tech layoffs. Assuming the human layer of support won’t be returning in force anytime soon, I’ve got some advice for brands looking for help with mission-critical issues like getting their accounts flagged/paused, getting up to speed on new tools and functionality, and getting trusted strategic advice.
Find an advocate.
If you’re a Fortune 500 brand spending in the multi-millions on advertising, you’ve presumably got plenty of support from Google and Facebook ad reps. But smaller brands, even those spending hundreds of thousands a month, may be out in the cold.
My advice: don’t take no for an answer. Beat the bushes. Go through side doors. Work your network until you can find someone on the inside willing to answer your questions – or point you to someone who can. I’m constantly surprised at what a small world advertising is – if you’ve been in it for a few years, you’re probably only a couple of degrees of separation from someone who can help.
Ask about betas.
Especially for high-growth companies looking for efficiency plays, early adoption of promising features can be extremely helpful in accomplishing growth goals – but you don’t know what you don’t know.
If you manage to lock down an advocate, make a regular habit of asking what’s new and what’s coming that your brand can get access to. AI seems to be increasing the acceleration of new-feature releases, and some of them (Facebook’s Advantage+ campaigns come immediately to mind) are already unlocking significant growth for brands willing to test them. If you’re not in the first couple of waves of adopters, you’ll risk getting priced out of the most effective features before you even know they’re out there.
Learn from peers.
There’s no good excuse these days for in-house marketers to stay in their company silos. A burgeoning crop of Slack and other online communities provide incredible, real-time discourse on best practices and strategies, tech integrations, and more. Those communities can be a little noisy, but you can be sure that someone in your peer set is experiencing or has experienced similar challenges – just drop in a question about Facebook’s Ad Manager and see how long it takes someone to chime in.
I founded my agency back in 2017 to help provide support to high-growth brands at scale – and the compounding effect of sharing baseline data and best practices across a big client set is real.
Good agencies will be intentional about sharing across client teams what’s working, what’s not working, what’s worth testing, etc. The result is that every client should have access to a broad, deep, fast-developing knowledge base around dynamic topics like leveraging AI, how to manipulate algorithms, how to test emerging channels, and more. That’s always been something agencies can offer as an advantage over in-house marketing teams, but it’s become even more of a critical competitive factor as support from the advertising platforms themselves has become more scarce.
What I don’t recommend is that you either throw up your hands or put your faith in the big advertising platforms to do what’s right for your business. Instead, roll up your sleeves, get out of your bunker, ask questions, share knowledge, find trusted allies, and stay skeptical. That mentality will set you up well for whatever the next wave of headlines brings.