by Johanna McDowell (@jomcdowell) Are we looking at some fundamental changes or will it be business as usual for the advertising, marketing and communications industry in 2019? I think there’ll be some interesting developments as the industry, both locally and globally, gears up for the challenges that a new year will undoubtedly bring.

Some thought-starters

  • 2019 will see a few more startups in the agency world as the industry fragments further These are likely to be more strategic and creative in nature — creative hot shops. The era of the digital-only startup is over
  • Greater and greater integration with the integrated agencies looking to boost those areas of their businesses where they’re not as strong eg deep digital, development and tech pl;us analytics
  • Clients doing more in-house, especially in the area of digital media and analytics — but this will start to change towards the end of 2019, when clients discover how difficult this is to manage without sufficient skills
  • In South Africa, we should see some growth in budgets as the worst of our economic decline should be behind us; however, clients will expect more and more from agencies
  • The duopoly of Google and Facebook will see a marked decline as Amazon comes to the fore; already the fastest-growing digital media platform globally, agencies will have the opportunity to show clients how to work with Amazon and create awareness for their brands via that platform
  • I would love to see a few of the international micro networks such as 72andSunny, Anomaly and Dept entering our market; highly talented with unique agency operating models, as well as future-fit thinking, these agencies would shake up some of the creative complacency that we’re seeing in SA at present
  • Growth in Africa? Still a very big question mark over what is possible
  • PR and integration: high-level PR thinking is still needed but is chronically undervalued by clients and other agency disciplines that fail to understand what PR can achieve. Agency groups which can succeed with this will continue to grow. PR agencies that focus on content — especially video editorial — will win.
  • Transformation continues to be a big issue and I’m not sure that the industry is really solving this. 100% black-owned agencies struggle to get past the 10 people level; I’m not sure that clients really take them seriously. They want to but are very nervous about delivery and execution capabilities. Agencies that execute well will win. But, until then, the larger agencies which have done interesting transformation deals that include trusts, non-executive directors and shareholders will tick the transformation boxes of certain clients — for now. The MAC Charter might need to be relooked at.
  • Pitch processes will continue to attract positive and negative comment but, nonetheless, will play a very important role in our industry —a fact of life. Globally.

See also


MarkLives logo What are the industry expectations for the marketing and advertising industry in 2019? Kicking off our “Big Q” column for the year, a panel of key agency and marketing executives discusses the macro environment, budgets, changes in messaging, movement in the industry and any consumer and communication trends they’ll be looking out for in the year ahead.

Johanna McDowell (@jomcdowell) is MD of the Independent Agency Search and Selection Company (IAS), which is partnered with the AAR Group in the UK. Johanna is one of the few experts driving this mediation and advisory service in SA and globally. She also runs the IAS Marketers Masterclass, a programme consisting of masterclasses held in Cape Town and in Johannesburg. Twice a year she attends AdForum Worldwide Summits.

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