Advertising fear: Is it game over for the Madmen?

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This week we picked up on the announcement that Unilever, one of the world’s biggest FMCG companies responsible for a host of household name brands, was set to cull a significant amount of its current advertising budget. Thanks to Financial Times for the tip off.

It’s not the first time something like this has made headlines, either. Earlier in 2017, it was reported that P&G, another familiar face in the sector, had cut its spend by 41% year-on-year, and the article, published on Business Insider UK, also suggested that Unilever had already curbed its outgoings by a whopping 59%. Both firms pointed to a lack of transparency in the industry, and a need for more ROI.

This comes just a week after we featured a story in our Blagger’s Blog about how Nestle’s global marketer, Michael Chrisment, had quit, choosing instead to join French media giant Konbini, claiming the departure was the result of a ‘broken’ advertising model.

Meanwhile, in June, Mediatel published a piece that claimed 7/10 Brits simply don’t trust commercials anymore, according to a survey by Trinity Mirror Solutions. None of which spells particularly great news when it comes to the outlook for admen (and women).

Where from here then? The big question is, of course, what the impact could be on advertising overall. We have already seen a huge rise in the use of online ad blockers, and programmatic is fast becoming a dirty word thanks to malicious material and fake news being matched with high profile company campaigns. Add to this the rise in on-deman TV, which predominantly has less advertising, and the skip-rate for adds on platforms like YouTube, and the picture looks bleaker still.

One thing is for sure- nobody is tolling any bells for commercials in general; you’re not going to see a sudden reduction in the overall quantity of adverts being created anytime soon, but a potential fallout could be that rates begin to drop, meaning cheaper content will be produced for smaller and smaller brands.

At the same time, we could well start to witness a surge in social spend from the companies backing away from more traditional ads, a boon for the likes of Facebook, which has long been making it near-impossible to get a message heard without paying for amplification.

Or maybe we’re just barking up the wrong tree with these ideas? Either way, with clear and client-focussed measurement and evaluation methods becoming an increasing expectation in the PR industry, advertising obviously has some catching up to do.

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