by MarkLives (@marklives) What are the industry expectations for the marketing and advertising industry in 2020? A panel of key agency and marketing execs 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. Next up is Publicis Groupe Africa’s Naeem Seedat.

Naeem Seedat

Naeem SeedatNaeem Seedat is CEO of the Communications business at Publicis Groupe Africa, having previously served as TransUnion Africa VP plus on the Auditor General of South Africa exco. He has also held senior positions in Accenture, KPMG Abu Dhabi, Bytes and PwC Southern Africa. His experience is broad and spans many industries and disciplines, giving him the unique perspective needed to connect the dots and operate across increasingly blurring industry lines. Naeem is an agent of digital transformation and has spent much of the last few years helping clients to use and respond to technological change.

At a macro level, the pace and complexity of technology-fuelled change will continue to accelerate in 2020, with digital thinking becoming the norm across all industries, further contributing to the phenomenon of “blurred industry lines”. As startups continue to chip away at traditional industry value chains across the board, incumbents in all industries will be forced to radically transform their business models and/or to look at challenging adjacent or alternative industries outside of their traditional hunting grounds — there go those precious industry lines which we’ve all arranged around ourselves, our offerings, our skills and our mindsets around!

Armed with new data-driven, tech-enabled front- and back-office capabilities, organisations in all industries are rethinking their core business models, reimagining and smashing the status quo while venturing out into delivering new kinds of products and services and seeking out new sources of growth in new markets. In this world, it wouldn’t be uncommon or surprising for a telco company to launch a banking service, for a tech company to get into the transportation game or for a retailer to venture into pharmaceutical distribution, etc.

Many industries will shift from merely overlapping to having significant disruptive effects on each other. 2020 marks the start of a feeding frenzy, with ‘outsiders’ increasingly eating the lunch of ‘insiders’.

Prepare for impact

Closer to home, the disruptive digital forces of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) have steadily been nudging three worlds towards each other, placing them on a collision course — namely our world, the communications and media industry (which includes all manner of organisations that have historically serviced the marketing and advertising value chain); the tech industry (which includes a host of tech solutions, consulting and delivery organisations); and the data industry (which includes a number of organisations that collect and aggregate big data to deliver information-based solutions to the market).

2020 will see these three industries start to collide in a significant way, with organisations in each industry pitting their respective capabilities, products and services against each other in a quest for a larger share of clients’ attention, relevance and ultimately wallet.

This collision of industries will reshape the communications and media industry, the impact of which split the agency world into two distinct groups.

  1. The first will be made up of those agencies which remain largely traditional and purist in their approach, serving only a narrow, niche marketing and advertising market. The opportunity for this group in 2020 will be for them to double down and secure their position as masters of their current craft (for the time being, at least), while the big threat for them is that of commoditisation and redundancy due to cheaper, tech- and data-enabled alternatives.
  2. The second will be those agencies that evolve and connect their value propositions, staying relevant to not only marketing and advertising execs but to other c-suite stakeholders across their clients’ value chains. This second group will make the shift from being niche agencies to being strategic business partners which are able to authentically bring creativity, data and technology together to solve business problems, drive client growth and deliver transformative experiences that wow their clients’ customers. The opportunity for this group in 2020 will be the ability to price for value (to “follow the money” as it were) as clients reprioritise and shift budgets away from traditional marketing to other revenue-generating areas within their businesses. The big threat for them will be the challenge of successfully attracting and integrating new talent needed to position new value propositions and solve new kinds of business problems for clients.

Get ready to grow

I’ll sum up my expectations for 2020 by adapting a phrase from the late, great Johnny Clegg: “It’s [going to be] a cruel, crazy, beautiful world!”

And as this crazy world tilts, shifts and ebbs around us, it’s clear that the communications and advertising industry will be challenged like never before this year. Much will be written of the threats to our industry from technology and convergence, especially from ‘outsiders’ who are coming to eat our lunch! Personally, I welcome this kind of competition as it creates healthy discomfort for us all, pushing us out of our safe spaces and creating the conditions needed to drive us towards reimagining the value we create for clients — it’s is a discomfort that the industry desperately needs; after all, nobody every grows from a comfort zone.

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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