As a member of The Freelance Exchange of Kansas City, I was privileged last month to attend a very interesting meeting at which a local panel of experts discussed the state of the advertising industry today. The three panelists were:

  • Kay Moore (director of talent management, Glynndevins).
  • John Nohe (president and CEO, JNA Advertising).
  • Susan Scholes (vice president of marketing, Imodules).

The panel shared numerous insights about the advertising industry. I want to focus on just a few that were especially interesting. This is one insight that is somewhat obvious, yet it was great to bring it up for some excellent discussion:

The concept of an agency of record is virtually nonexistent.

Whereas in the past, companies would sign on with one advertising agency and stick there forever, today that just is not happening. Companies are willing to change agencies quickly if they are not satisfied. Moreover, companies realize that the high-priced agency venue is not necessarily any better than what they might choose to do themselves in-house.

Companies can also select from many different agencies in addition to the freelance pool. This a la carte style means that one agency might handle the Web site while a freelance person handles the social media while another agency handles the regular mailings and collateral materials. Everyone agreed that this approach could place the company’s brand stability at risk.

Some of these changes are motivated by a reassessment of the economics and competition of advertising. The playing field and the economic pressures are not the same today. Additionally, everyone is flexing their muscles with the tremendous capabilities provided by technology.

The state of the advertising industry today is definitely different than in was in any prior era. The big agencies seem to be going away. This also means that all agencies and freelancers will potentially have more opportunities, if they know where to look and how to approach prospective clients.

My observation—That rocket has left the launch pad and will not be slowing down for anyone. In fact, it is going to fly faster every day. So regardless of your role (agency, client, or freelancer), you had better plan your trajectory now.

About James Meadows

Currently I serve as a training team manager for Johnson Controls at a customer-care center in Kansas City. Additionally, I am a business consultant, a freelance corporate writer, an Assembly of God ordained minister, a Civil Air Patrol chaplain, and a blogger. I believe we are living in the most fascinating times of human history. To maximize the opportunities these times present, I have a passionate interest in leadership development and organizational success, both of which I view as inextricably linked.

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