Will the new Adtech Prophets really save our industry?


Mass persuasion has been fueled by intuition, passion, and emotion. Worshipped at the altar of agency life, the creatives reign. The "art" of advertising has been the "church" to the "state" of science in our business.  An industry ruled by passion has produced a deep congregation of emotional people. One where human insights are exploited for mass persuasion to drive the economy.  It's not simple to do, but it's fairly simple to comprehend. 

Today, our industry is hanging by a thread. Our "Faith" is ironically shifting to a new savior of science. Big Data, AI, and Blockchain are the new holy trinity. But are they false prophets?

Let's look closer


Big data has always been important. It's only the advertising agency world that seems to be catching on. Most digital, CRM other marketers will say that data has been driving the decisions all along. Lately consulting agencies like Accenture and McKinsey are filling this credibility gap.  Savvy clients are developing deeper data lakes and DMPs (Digital Management Platforms) for much sharper looks at the numbers. Creative agencies, still not really in the game, look on bewildered. Despite all this big data knowledge, a human in the loop is still needed to interpret the insight. Anytime dogma is open to interpretation - things tend to get emotional. 

But at least big data can help us get more resourceful if we remain open to applying some wisdom in its usage. 


Let's face it. there is more AI in the latest incarnation of Angry Birds than there is at Omnicom, Publicis, Dentsu, and IPG combined. Of these new prophets, this may have created the hottest air.  AI can drive media programmatic, influencer selection and even deeper connections, the ad tech is relatively late to the game (by digital standards). The one thing AI has not been able to do (anywhere, ever) is to be creative. I don't mean crunching a million solutions and probabilities to determine the next chess move, I mean abstract thought. 

But at least AI can help us get smarter if we remain open to apply creativity in its usage. 


The latest prophet to point us to the way of the promised land is Blockchain. I believe this tech is a long way from a proprietary application in creative and media agencies but is really close to ad tech at publishers and client side. Fake news proliferates social networking, often fueled by special interests and foreign governments. Influencers have been reduced to shills for brands and marketers. Agencies are getting caught double dipping in programmatic, serving ads alongside dubious content, and not delivering the numbers (or results) they have sold. 

But at least blockchain can help us get more trustworthy if we remain open to being more accountable. 

Despite a lot of reasonable skepticism out there, I believe there is a lot of reckoning to be delivered through these 3 tech prophets of Madison Ave. What client wouldn't want their agency to be more resourceful, wiser and trustworthy? The problem is, I've never seen an agency that consistently aspires to these qualities. They do not hire it, they do not reward it, and as much as they try to sell it, they do not deliver it. 

So no, I don't believe these adtech prophets will save the agencies, but the marketing industry is about to get a whole lot better for it. 

Prove me wrong Madison Ave.