I have copied and predicted my predictions from last year because most, if not all, were correct and they will continue to apply this year as well…
I predict at least ten of these things will happen in the next 12 months. This is a little bit of a doomsday scenario but bear with me. None of these are totally ridiculous. Many of these predictions could be wrong by 180 degrees and could go in the reverse direction from what I am suggesting.
1- Agency fees for Google ad spend will go south of 10% as offshore suppliers continue to enter the market
2 – Adblockers will get even more effective and even more popular so that targeting younger people who use them most will become even less effective or even more useless
3 – Clients will demand lower prices as they see more ‘supermarket’ offers from scaled offerings
4 – Lack of supply of qualified staff will reach crisis levels and will force agency costs up even further
5 – Out of London free-lancers will be able to command higher prices as the supply of coders and application engineers dries up in the big city
6 – Qualified staff will jump ship for an extra 5p per hour or the offer a weekly massage
7 – Clients seeking better value for money will try to push prices down using devices like reverse auctions
8 – Apps will be launched by small agencies and giant ad companies that will simplify ad spend decisions and platform choices to a handful of clicks on one screen: AI will do the rest
9 – Agencies sub-25 staff will struggle to win business with medium/large clients who want reassurance that their supplier will stay the course
10 – Agency owners sub-25 staff will start to close or sell for relatively low premiums as they lose the will to live
11 – Agency owners sub-25 staff will start to sell out to the seductive offers of agglomeration plays that will offer great multiplier valuations and access to stock market investment for a grouped-together play
12 – Independent agencies will feel left out of the loop as they see Google, Facebook and Bing marketplaces and retailers connecting directly leaving websites etc out of the loop
13 – Agencies will spread their risk by trying to be experts in more than one or two of Google, Amazon, Bing, YouTube and Facebook platforms
14 – Google, Amazon, Bing, YouTube and Facebook will look and may find the killer app – it may well be speaking direct to retailers
15 – Continuing data scares will damage the credibility of Google, Amazon, Bing, YouTube, and Facebook. There will be demands for tighter control and policing of the platforms. Each major political vote will bring greater awareness and objections
16 – The ability to manage and accommodate growth will become the key determinant of agency survival
17 – More cases of click fraud will be reported creating an increasing uncertainty and a greater lack of trust; fraudulent traffic will become much discussed yet difficult to kill as one of many elephants in the room.
18 – Clients will get more savvy. Better informed clients will become more demanding and less tolerant of average performance. Agencies that hide behind gobbledegook will be found out
19 – China or India will become the market of choice for the more entrepreneurial; likewise, our market may prove popular for the Chinese and Indians
20 – Social Media and Influencers will lose their charm amidst claims of fraudulent reporting and lack of attribution
21 – The whole gamut of political uncertainty will create increased client nervousness. Everything from Brexit to GDPR to Trump to Putin. Ukraine might be the real flashpoint in Europe
22 – The whole gamut of economic uncertainty will create increased client nervousness. Everything from collapsing house prices to the predicted slump of 2020
23 – The whole gamut of social uncertainty will create increased client nervousness. Everything from riots in London to Mexicans invading the US
24 – The whole gamut of technological uncertainty will create increased client nervousness. Everything from security breaches to technologies being unable to talk to each other.
25 – The whole gamut of legislative uncertainty will create increased client nervousness. Everything from Brexit to GDPR to the rise of mental health awareness to the reaction to abuse and bullying in the workplace
26 – The whole gamut of environmental uncertainty will create increased client nervousness. Everything from fracking to plastic bags in the ocean to diesel prices
27 – More big consultancies will buy more marketing agencies, more marketing agencies will buy more digital agencies, more of the bigger digital agencies will buy more smaller agencies and niche players
28 – More digital agencies will attempt to diversify and move away from pure performance and move towards broader (non-performance) brand and brand offerings
29 – More agencies will go bust than ever before.
30 – Failing agencies will blame their demise on the platforms. Most failing agencies should look at themselves to explain the failure.
31 – Agencies with a fixed’ limiting mindset will die; agencies with a positive, growth mindset are more likely to survive.
32 – A massive security hack will threaten the relationship between a platform and its audience
Before you accuse me of being a total doom and gloom merchant might I point out the upside:
1 – It will be a case of the survival of the fittest
2 – It will be a case of adapt or die
3 – Working on the business rather than just in the business will enable you to design and flex the business to respond to the tsunami of change heading towards you
4 – In every growing industry there is a shakeout. This is no exception. There needs to be one to get rid of the dross that currently damages the reputations of many fine agencies that are out there
5 – With so much market turbulence, there will be plenty of opportunities to merge or acquire other agencies
6 – With good staff becoming the premium asset, those agencies, the employers of choice, with great cultures will flourish
7 – As every trader/gambler/entrepreneur will tell you, there’s more money to made in times of uncertainty than in times of certainty
8 – The money won’t be made from a ‘business as usual’ mentality but form the deals that you cut
9 – In a sea of mediocrity, it should be much easier to standout. You just need to be 5% better than the rest
10 – Only those agencies that are above-average will be the winners. But not all of them
There will be casualties. Just make sure you are not one. Remember, nature is brutally honest.
Is the glass half-full or is it half-empty?
The question is not how to survive but whether you are in the top 10%(?) who will reap the benefits of the layers of uncertainty. Figure out how you are going to do that.
Just be aware, the light at the end of the train tunnel might be an express train heading straight for you!