by MarkLives (@marklives) What are the expectations for the marketing and advertising industry in 2018? We emailed a panel of key industry executives for their take on the macro environment, budgets, changes in messaging, movement in the industry and any consumer and communication trends they’ll be looking out for. Next up is Odette van der Haar of the ACA.

Odette van der Haar

Odette van der HaarOdette van der Haar (@odette_roper) is the CEO of the Association for Communication and Advertising (ACA), which is the recognised industry body of the advertising and communications profession in South Africa. It is a voluntary body formed both by and for the industry, focused upon and committed to self-regulation, and to defend the highest standards of ethical practice.

Famous management consultant, educator and author, Peter Drucker, once stated: “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” But can we truly create our future, predict it? There are too many variables that we’re simply not in control of. Within our profession, the quote is definitely more fiction than fact but, then again, it’s also more fact than fiction. The latter holds true, however, because as marketers we should prepare ourselves for all and any eventuality.


We could explore estimated adspend numbers for a specific year or series of years; however, this is never an exact science. Besides, why is the industry so preoccupied with how much is being spent on communications campaigns, and where the money is being spent? Certainly, it affects our bottom line if the spend is either higher or lower; however, our key motivation should be producing exceptionally creative and effective work, and not simply chasing the supposed next big thing.

We should rather concentrate our efforts on preparing for what lies ahead, ensuring that, if it’s a bumper year, we take advantage of it, grow revenues and work toward ensuring the future sustainability of the entire value chain.

Nevertheless, let’s look at figures and use them as a means of guiding our understanding of trends within marketing and communications; this way, these figures start to have real value. So, let’s consider predicted ad-spend for 2018. The latest Dentsu Aegis study estimates growth of 3.6%, taking global media spend to US$589.5bn for 2018. Globally, digital’s share of total media continues unabated, predicted to grow to 38.3%, knocking TV at 35.5% off the top spot for the first time! Then there’s the predicted growth of VR, AI, social, and the list goes on.

Question that prediction

Sounds fantastic. However, consider the current global economic ‘disorder’ and you may have to question that prediction.

There are trends in the immediate future that cannot be ignored when we create campaigns on behalf of brands. These include real-time marketing, content marketing, video, social, in-stream ads, digital out-of-home and more. Yet, as stated previously, we should prepare ourselves rather than spend inordinate amounts of effort on looking back and predicting forward.

The trends we talk about then should not be restricted to spend, growth, decline, and any other descriptor you may choose to use. We should be looking at what our industry will do to mitigate a drop in consumer spend because of tough economic times, or boost consumer spend when times are good. And this approach is starting to gain momentum.

From small shops through to global networks, we see greater and greater effort placed in generating effective work. Today, agency leaders are talking more about their effective work and the difference it has made to the bottom line for clients, rather than blowing their own horn about the creativity of the work alone. If you are looking for a trend in the industry, this is it!

We have one thing to do

Let’s ignore the tedious traditional vs digital debate. Let’s presume that there are no economic factors that inhibit/propel growth in adspend. Let’s for a moment presume that, all things being equal, we have one thing to do, and that is to provide communications campaigns that are effective and provide true value and ROI to brands.

Whether coming from an ad agency, below the line, PR, events, media, digital, experiential, OOH (the list goes on), we all have one common goal: driving the sector forward.

#BigQ2018 series

See also


MarkLives logoLaunched in 2016, “The Big Q” is a regular column on MarkLives in which we ask key advertising and marketing industry execs for their thoughts on relevant issues facing the industry. If you’d like to be part of our pool of panellists, please contact editor Herman Manson via email (2mark at marklives dot com) or Twitter (@marklives). Suggestions for questions are also welcomed.

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