Johanna McDowell. Picture: Russell Roberts/Financial Mail
Johanna McDowell. Picture: Russell Roberts/Financial Mail

The annual AdForum Worldwide Summit took place earlier this year in Los Angeles. Independent Agency Search CEO Johanna McDowell attended the forum and again returned with interesting learnings and insights gleaned from agencies represented there.

Most teens and young adults see creating video content for YouTube as the job they would most like to do, says McDowell, adding that this insight was backed up in a session with Collab, a content creation company that predominantly services YouTube creators.

About half YouTube creators earn sufficient income not to have to take on another job. Some make millions a year by virtue of the number of their followers and high levels of integrity relating to brand alignment. This is something McDowell predicted would become a trend 2½ years ago, when she last visited Los Angeles. According to Collab, the combination of strategy and digital video is powerful and the videos developed by creators offer an authentic view of their lives. 

A session with the WPP agency revealed that the role of traditional agencies has been challenged, and that consulting companies are increasingly making inroads into the advertising space. This trend has been growing; consultancy Accenture bought New York-based global agency Droga5 and Shackleton not long ago.

WPP’s session, together with one hosted by the Stagwell Group, showed that the needs of marketers are changing and that traditional holding companies are not keeping up. Stagwell CEO Mark Penn commented that holding companies are fracturing, while WPP has positioned itself as a creative transformation company as opposed to a holding group, with a younger, flatter structure. Client contracts are now increasingly based on outcomes rather than time.

Another takeout is that though traditional media advertising spend is on a downward trajectory, that of digital media is growing exponentially, as are the agencies working in the digital space. Film and branded content are also growing hugely, with the result that a number of businesses are being formed around this phenomenon, largely in the youth culture. “Agency positioning is becoming pivotal in the definition of the types of clients to work with, as well as how to attract the best clients,” McDowell says.

The big take-out

Video content taking over from other platforms as an authentic means of communication.