A sign of things to come for the advertising industry. It just doesn’t add up!


The ad industry, has been in  deep sand for quite a while. With multiple aspersions cast on it,which do it no good.What with reaping the rewards of ad fraud, while clients suffer. Being at the receiving end of supplier/media benevolence(kickbacks?) disguised in many forms. Hiding and misrepresenting the truth about the horrible record of online advertising. Adulterating ad buys with worthless “non-human” traffic (bots) to make them look more efficient.And generally putting self-interest above clients .

Here are some numbers that indicate that the ad industry is in for some serious evaluation, interrogation.On an average, more than 60% of brands are considering reviewing their agency be it creative, media, digital or search.

Not only are these numbers unprecedented but client dissatisfaction seems all pervasive amongst the top 6 advertising holding groups.The quest for a new flavour has also been motivated by some other key factors viz

  • Confidence in digital or social platforms is significantly below 50%(notwithstanding all the hype & hoopla).
  • Almost 100% of marketers want digital media owners to have their inventory measured by a third party.
  • 2/3 of marketers say they are questioning their “investment” with Facebook. They just don’t  not ‘ like ‘ what they see!

Add: the serious issue of transparency in the business. Community/nationality clusters aiding and abetting decision making rather than rational. If only we realised that given the times we are in, transparency can be the Big Idea, the Great differentiator that will separate the men from the wannabes. The theory of association where brand heads and marketing managers want to be seen in the company of blue chip ad agencies, the quality of their work or commitment notwithstanding. The abysmal quality of online advertising.. the malaise of big agency aristocracy..and last but not the least the advertising agency industry’s spineless disinterest in confronting the issues of viewability and ad fraud.

What we have here is a perfect storm of unprincipled behaviour and client dissatisfaction. This wave has been gathering momentum for years(despite best efforts to brush most issues under the carpet).But, soon,very soon, the S*** will hit the ceiling!

The big shots will be looked askance on. Heads(and heads of agencies) will roll.Clients will take some of their advertising business to conventionally non-agency entities(read smaller, smarter, capable and ethical players).In the process,it will be hell for a lot of wonderful, hard-working people with integrity who will be victims of collateral damage. Lurking in the background, enabling both the deterioration of the advertising business and the debasing of journalism, is the rancid, insidious hand of adtech.

While ad fraud is systemic, there is reason to believe the issues of corruption and transparency are far more onerous in the ‘ blue chip ‘ agencies than in the independent and regional agencies.

We are at the cusp of a turning(inflection) point. What we all look forward to is the strong probability of the ad industry coming out stronger, better, wiser!

Image Courtsey: Brainvire

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About Author

Suresh Dinakaran

Suresh Dinakaran is the Chief Storyteller at Dubai headquartered branding agency ISD GlobalManaging Editor of BrandKnew and FounderWeeklileaks. Feedback welcome at suresh@groupisd.com

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