María Miras, beon. Communication Director, participates in the last meeting of advertising agencies by El Publicista, where she shares her vision on the past, present and future of the industry.
According to some industry studies (AMES, Infoadex…) advertisers in Spain are increasingly investing in the marketing areas, though investment in advertising and communication do not seem to grow in the same direction, but rather they grind to a halt. However, what could be the major cause for this scenario?
Some brands are rethinking their usual investment scenarios due to several factors: economic uncertainty, new consumption models and, therefore, new models of relationship with their clients, new alliances or strategic plans, etc. The agencies have to be liquid to be able to adapt to the new needs and not lose business along the way.
Is the advertising business in danger here in Spain? It is possible that we have ahead a cuts and downturn period?
The economic forecasts are somewhat uncertain. It does not seem that we are going to be hit by another great crisis but, personally, I do not rule out that we are shortly entering in a phase of some caution with regard to advertising investment.
What areas of business will drive the advertising sphere over the short and long run? What media or channels could benefit from the new direction of advertising investment?
It will obviously depend on the evolution of the economy. However, there are sectors that are already experiencing major transformations as the automobile industry, which has and will have many news to communicate to its audiences in the medium term. On the other hand, we have also detected a growing activity in the real estate sector, and in everything related to new forms of consumption of products or traditional sectors.
Big consulting firms (Pricewaterhousecoopers, Deloitte, Accenture…) increasingly endeavor to enter in the advertising market, both at local and global levels. What does this could mean for the agencies and the rest of industry players?
This is an interesting time; many of us have our eyes wide open to see how the latest mergers and acquisitions in our sector are evolving. I believe that the relationships between the agency and the client will tend more towards consulting than partnership. I also believe that in the medium term there will be room for the smaller, more specialized agencies, and for the larger ones. We will have to see what the evolution of the medium size becomes. I am afraid there will be some challenges ahead.
Do you think that consultants are ready to meet the advertisers’ demands of advertisers with respect to marketing and commercial communication at the service of the business? What are your strengths and weaknesses, in this sense?
This is something relatively new, so we will have to wait and see how they begin to evolve in the advertising market. The huge differences between the two business models idiosyncrasies catches my attention, we will see how they fit together.
From your point of view, what are the key needs of the advertisers that advertising professionals must figure out to continue being the natural partners of these companies when it comes to building brand reputation, customer trust, and business growth?
For many brands, it is essential not to lose ground in the construction of qualitative relationships with their consumers. And there is where I believe that agencies can provide more value at a creative, strategic, or executional level.
The advertising industry, and specifically the group of agencies (regardless of profile), has been reconverted these years to continue being useful to customers in their connection with the consumer. In an honest exercise of self-criticism, is it necessary a greater evolution?
I think we have to be much more permeable to training. Our day to day is so busy that it often seems like a luxury that our teams cannot afford. A radical change of mentality in this sense is necessary, indeed.
Is it more difficult to find points of connection between brands and audiences now or 20 years ago? How would you define the current scenario in which trademarks have to be developed?
As consumers, we want brands to represent certain values and lifestyles we like. In addition, we demand that these values be true, that they are imbued with brand culture and in all its areas of activity. The access to the information we have today is brutal, so it is relatively easy to discover the brands that try to show us their friendly side in their campaigns, but then, for example, are not very respectful in their production processes. I think that is a trend that is going further, so it can certainly generate a rebound effect in the case of brands that are not honest in their dialogue with consumers.
What is key for a brand to be relevant today and to be so in the future? How it is currently build the consumer’s trust?
By maintaining a dialogue in which the brand performs an active listening, showing coherence in all its actions in the short, medium and long term.
Do you think that Spanish advertising market concerns are currently in line with the needs of advertisers?
I think that the agencies are very aware of the evolution of the sector and its players, but that is not at odds with the ability to be aware of our customers and their needs, anticipating them on many occasions.
The obsession to measure everything and to know the detail to the consumer and their behavior has generated a greater weight of the data in the advertising processes. Can great advertising occur without Big or Smart Data? Are creativity and strategy constrained by analytical thinking, for example?
The essence of the message usually comes from creative thinking, which is key to achieving a truly qualitative connection with the client. Data are a big help, but without creativity, the essence of the message is lost.
Applied to marketing, AI is another unstoppable trend. Do you think these type of innovations help the sector to evolve in a positive way? Regardless of whether technology helps us with tiresome, mechanical tasks and allows optimizing agenda processes… But can AI help us understand why humans do the things we do? Will it help us to extract insights and better creative ideas for brands to generate business?
I believe without a doubt that AI is going to help our industry greatly. For example, it will certify current or former intuitions or patterns that we could be repeated. This is a statement that obviously cannot be applied in a homogeneous way to all sectors and advertisers because the casuistry of each of them. We have to be attentive because, although there may be failures, I am convinced that there will be advances that will help us significantly.
Please, be honest about this: do you think advertising is something interesting for the modern consumer? It is part of the future for advertising to stop advertising (at least in appearance)?
I think that advertising is always interesting for consumers. It is our responsibility to find the best way and time to reach them.