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Blog / NNF Agency Stories: The Tech Revolution in Marketing Agencies

NNF Agency Stories: The Tech Revolution in Marketing Agencies

Marketing agencies face a number of challenges in today's ever-changing business landscape. One of the biggest is keeping up with the rapid advancements in technology.

Additionally, legal and ethical considerations, such as data privacy laws and advertising guidelines, add another layer of complexity to navigating this new tech landscape. Looking forward, as AI and machine learning become more established, marketers will need to learn how to leverage these emerging tools. So, with one eye on the future, how can marketing firms stay flexible and adaptable in such a constantly evolving environment?

Join us in this Now, Next, Future: Agencies stories special as we aim to get to the heart of these challenges, as well as the opportunities faced by agencies across the globe. Read on as we talk to Jon Clarke, VP of Global Technology Solutions at Transmission, a full-service B2B marketing agency, or watch the video below!

Check out the full video here!
 
 

Staying afloat in turbulent times

Jon has 28 years of experience in B2B marketing on the client, agency, and vendor sides and joined Transmission about two years ago. “I’ve got the three different perspectives of all things B2B. My last business that I co-founded was a B2B and tech platform, Cyance. Then I joined Transmission to head up the Global Service Innovation strategy, and it's been a real whirlwind.”

The past few years haven’t seen much stability in the marketing landscape, with one hurdle coming straight after another. COVID-19, the subsequent adaptation to a post-pandemic world, and the ever-tightening economy have all been front and center for businesses globally. For marketers, there are additional factors to consider, such as managing increasing client expectations, navigating the end of third-party cookies, and dealing with the AI frenzy. So, how does the current state of the agency landscape look from Jon’s perspective, and how is it evolving?

“There's a huge amount of change going on that agencies and our clients are faced with. I think post-Covid, the economic headwinds are huge. We've moved away, particularly in the tech space, from growth at any cost to growing profitably at any cost, and that's really down to the economic climate, and the fact that there's a huge amount of pressure on budgets.”

 “As we know, the marketing budget is quite often the first one that's looked at, incorrectly, in my view. I believe that you need to be doubling down on where your best customers are, and where your future customers are, and really driving efficiency in terms of how you grow.”

Investment in martech is set to increase by 50% in just five years

Investment in martech is set to increase by 50% in just five years

 

It seems like others agree. A recent McKinsey survey states that forward-thinking CEOs who “place marketing at the core of their growth strategy are twice as likely to have greater than 5% annual growth compared with their peers.”

Jon continues, “Organizations need to think about efficiency and profitability — the bottom line. So it's a real challenge for agencies to demonstrate to their clients and to the market how they can help their clients to achieve that. A big part of that is technology — it's how you drive efficiency into how you go to market.”

 

Same old problems, brand new tech

Technology is providing new opportunities for marketers with tools and techniques to help analyze purchase patterns. Data gathering and integration tools can now utilize real-time tracking and monitoring with agency data analytics tools offering insights into consumer behavior at speed.

Indeed, investment in martech looks to be crucial for business success with companies increasing their martech spend 50% in just five years. It seems businesses will continue to place more focus on implementing technologies that support these approaches as they continue to double down on digital channels.

Jon agrees that these tools already play an essential role in modern marketing. “Technology is not only driving efficiency in terms of what we can automate, what we can improve but also how we blend together the kind of creativity that you get from humans and how you can then leverage tech to do the things that move the needle in the right direction, in a more automated, more scalable way. I think those things combined are really providing a challenge for the market in B2B.”

 

While AI offers immense promise, leveraging it can be challenging

While AI offers immense promise, leveraging it can be challenging

 

Addressing the gap between data and creativity can be a balancing act, but a good start for those who find data to be a hindrance is to focus on their tech strategy. Recent research from Adverity found that 42% of CMOs say data hinders creativity in their team, while 41% say it supports creativity. So, what’s the major difference between these two groups? On average, those who say data hinders creativity are twice as likely to struggle most with a lack of tools.

AI taking over? No, humans taking control

AI has, of course, become an increasingly vital tool to marketing companies, offering powerful capabilities for data analysis, reporting software for marketing agencies, customer segmentation, and personalized targeting. In the next few years, AI is set to revolutionize marketing even further, by automating routine tasks, delivering predictive data, and enabling hyper-individualized communications at scale.

However, while AI offers immense promise, leveraging it can be challenging for many marketing companies. Implementation requires a solid technical infrastructure, effective prompting and execution skillsets in the marketing team, experienced data scientists, and streamlined data management processes. Additionally, there may be resistance to change or concerns about privacy and ethical considerations. Overcoming these hurdles demands strategic planning, training, and a commitment to integrating AI seamlessly into a business’ marketing strategies.

 

Currently, we’re at a critical point in the evolution of AI. Jon explains, “AI and machine learning have been around for a while, but it seems to have really exploded in the last 18 months, and we're seeing a whole ton of new apps and new companies that are just AI-based, in every part of our lives. [At Transmission], we've created an AI working group that globally, across our agency, is headed up by our CEO to really double down on understanding where these opportunities are.”

“The obvious ones are creating content, and that's great, but the things that I think are going to be really significant are where we’re looking at AI to help crunch through large volumes of data around discovering audiences that are going to be a really good fit for our clients.”

A recent article from McKinsey states that generative AI will indeed “help consumer businesses reach these microsegments at scale by increasing creative output and automating marketing outreach.” Through this microtargeting, marketers can connect with high-potential consumer groups to “provide personalized experiences that build brand love and loyalty and propel future purchases.”

Jon adds, “There are really cool AI tools out now that help you to do the research around target markets and personas, doing it in a much smarter, technology and AI-driven way that gets you there much quicker.”

Next and future

In the next few years, we can anticipate a dizzying array of technological breakthroughs that will reshape our industry. From advancements in AI and machine learning to the rise of virtual and augmented reality experiences, marketers will have unprecedented opportunities to create innovative and immersive campaigns that captivate audiences and drive meaningful results.

As this series is all about hearing from agencies and their unique perspectives, we’ll leave the last word to Jon. “I predict that agencies will continue to become more technology-centric, and that's a challenge in itself because it does require a different skillset. It requires people with different experiences. Things like data science, technology solution designers and architects, machine learning, AI experts. These are the kind of people that we have within Transmission that are going to be continuously important for our clients. There will be some companies that will in-house it and do it really well, but I suspect the vast majority will really struggle, and that's why they outsource to agencies.”

 

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