Global Marketing

Advertising’s Disruptive Evolution

Have you ever wondered whether your company’s latest advertising campaign was effective in reaching its target market? The evolution of the digital landscape has forced marketers in all industries to reevaluate their business models in order to remain competitive with the latest start-up staffed by disruptive entrepreneurs and tech-savvy web developers. The emergence of internet-based marketing platforms such as Google, Twitter, and Facebook have upended the status quo of public relations and left legacy advertising agencies searching for ways to keep pace.


One of the companies embracing this challenge is Hill Holiday, a Boston based advertising firm with over 40 years of marketing expertise serving firms such as Johnson & Johnson, Chili’s, and Merrill Lynch. The company’s latest solution is an in-house incubation start-up deemed Project Beacon. This group isn’t developing the next Super Bowl commercial or trade show event, but is instead, focused on experimenting with the latest digital technology to help clients better allocate their marketing budgets. Project Beacon’s latest product, BrandFeed, does just that by providing an analytics platform for marketers to view the success of their latest marketing investment in real time. The BrandFeed subscription enables companies to actively monitor their social media campaign and quantitatively discern whether their intended message is adequately capturing their target audiences. This service provides marketers with the tools needed to measure success rates in ways that were previously unavailable or fractured among various services. This latest product represents just one of the many applications Project Beacon has developed to help clients manage their digital presence in the evolving digital landscape.


The advertising industry’s emphasis on product development as a supplement to promotional campaigns represents a paradigm shift in the advertising world that has only just begun.  One of the ways this trend is having an impact is by changing the revenue model of the legacy marketing firm. The traditional model was for firms to bill clients for the hours worked crafting their next campaign concept and developing the various elements to implement that campaign such as a series of commercials or ad placements. This model ensured that marketing firms were compensated irrespective of the success of their individual campaigns. This caused the primary brand equity for a traditional advertising agency to be the reputation they had acquired in the marketplace over time. Project Beacon embodies Clayton M. Christensen’s concept of disruptive innovation within this context of the traditional advertising agency. Project Beacon is Hill Holliday’s attempt to bring disruptive innovation in-house before the latest Silicon Valley start-up does it for them. Professor Edward Boches of Boston University put it best when he said, “The smart agencies have learned that they have to disrupt themselves before they get disrupted.”


I believe the new revenue model has followed another one of Christensen’s concepts which is the ‘Job to be Done’ framework. Much in the way one would “hire” LinkedIn to help expand their professional network, modern marketing agencies now realize that they are not being hired to simply create and develop the client’s next campaign, but to also be able to quantify the campaigns success in achieving the client’s targeting objectives. This new model has been rejuvenated to compensate firms for actually creating value rather than simply by hours billed. A critical component of this model is being able to quantify the success of the campaign in real time. By being able to quantify the successful elements within a campaign, marketers can adjust their advertising mix and better utilize the marketing budgets at their disposal to capture the customers they value so deeply. How is your marketing department or advertising agency quantifying the success of its latest campaign?