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The Democratization of Advertising – How the Small Guys are Taking Advantage & Winning

September 13th, 2017 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

A month ago, I took the leap of faith and left my corporate agency gig to “officially” join the One Tree Forest team.  After being a “behind the scenes partner” supporting my partner in life, Chad Cooper, who has been running the company for the past 7 years, we decided that to take the company to the next level full dedication on my part was needed.  I’ll write about my personal journey from corporate world to entrepreneur in the future posts.  Today however I want to talk about why a Global Account Director from one of the largest media agencies in the world saw such opportunity in a digital content company that she up and quit her job on the hunch that her husband was sitting on something much bigger than anything her current situation could offer.

First off, I bring a very different perspective to this talented crew of producers, directors and editors.  I have never worked in production and I don’t come from a traditional creative agency world.  I actually started by career at a small search engine marketing start-up when Google Adwords was the shiny new object in the advertising industry.  I got lucky and worked with some brilliant minds who ended up selling the start-up to Omnicom.  And just like that I found myself move from scrappy startup to climbing the corporate ladder guiding digital strategy for a number of Fortune 100 brands.

And what I know is this.  Today, ALL incremental digital media dollars available are going to just two platforms…Google and Facebook.  And what’s different about these partners compared to traditional media vendors is that they are not content producers (well not big ones yet)…they are platforms.  They are platforms with ENORMOUS scale supported by a technology stack that allows advertisers to find their consumers at a level of precision once only dreamed about.  And due to their self service nature, these platforms have taken down the barriers to entry for brands to advertise, creating a level playing field for anyone that has a Facebook or Google business account, a credit card, and something to say.  And they work…the ROI’s that I have seen on these platforms rival if not decimate TV ROI’s (something that 5 years ago I never thought a digital platform would be able to do).

The effectiveness of these platforms is creating a really big problem for traditional brands, resulting in a larger problem for the big agency holding companies who depend on these large TV dominant advertisers to spend a lot of media dollars.  Just last week Omnicom’s stock fell 7% (the worst traded stock that day) and in the past few months Omnicom’s rival, Group M, has been very open about its hiring and raise freezes.  Now there are a lot of factors causing these issues for holding companies (shift away from their trading desks due to brand safety concerns being one of them) but fundamentally these companies are highly dependent of their traditional, large brands doing well…and the forecast for those brands does not look good.

We all know the brands that are doing well today, the Tom’s Shoes, LuLuLemon’s, AirBnB’s, Mrs. Meyer’s of the world.  Unlike their large CPG counterparts who are still playing the share of voice game to win and losing out to private label because millennials don’t care about these types of brands; none of these brand advertise on television (okay, maybe a big Super Bowl spot to make a statement) and they don’t spend a lot of their money in media.   What they do is spend a significant amount of time on carefully crafting and curating their image in a way that authentically connects with their consumers.  They make people care for their brand by creating honest value propositions, focusing on sustainability, and giving back to their communities.  And these digital platforms that now dominate the media landscape have given them the ability to connect directly with their audience at a fraction of what is cost to do the same type of work 20 years ago.

I know, I know … if you dig a little bit you’ll find that a lot of these companies are no longer independents but are rather being rapidly acquired by the large CPG’s looking to offset the losses of their cornerstone brands.  Just last week Nestle bought a majority stake in Blue Bottle Coffee for just north of $700MM.  Blue Bottle coffee…a beloved brand with 50 stores TOTAL nationwide was acquired by Nestle.  However, these holding companies know that as soon as these brands become mass their customers will jet so they aren’t about to scale them in the way traditionally thought.  Their uniqueness makes them special.

So why did I leave my corporate media job to jump aboard this train?
– Because to survive in today’s democratized advertising industry, the small guys have just as much of a voice as the big brands.
– Its all about having a point of view and expressing that point of view in the right way, to the right audience.
– To do successfully, communications planning and creative can no longer be thought of in silos.
– In a world where new disruptors pop up every day it takes a LOT of content to remain relevant.

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