Why 2020 will be a big year for advertising

Given the geopolitical turbulence that characterised most of 2019, to say we are filled with optimism for 2020 is something of a welcome contrast. There is genuine cause for this optimism. Whatever your preferred outcome of the various referendums and elections, the fact is we are entering an extended period of reduced uncertainty and projected growth. It is our mission at the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) to make sure the UK’s advertising industry is at the forefront of that growth.

It may be the start of a new decade, but this year promises a wealth of opportunity. For one thing, it is a much-anticipated quadrennial year with not just the Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo, but also the Euro 2020 football tournament and the US presidential election. Zenith forecasts global advertisers will spend $7.5 billion more in these 12 months, leading to 4.3 per cent growth in the industry. And it’s not an isolated prediction, with the IPA’s Bellwether Report showing marketing budgets are on the climb again, with strong growth expected this year.

2020 challenges facing advertising

In the midst of this upswing, the advertising industry still faces challenges. In recent years there has been a shift in the perception of the value that advertising delivers, not all of it good. Some clients perceive their agencies provide limited value and procurement continues to own the client-agency relationship. We are deemed less trustworthy than estate agents, journalists or even politicians and struggle to attract the best talent or pay as well as the newly minted tech giants. The value of creativity, even from within our own industry, is in question.

And yet the irony is that our talents have never been more needed. Technology has been behind rapid change, leaving no sector untouched. What, when, where and how people consume continues to alter beyond all recognition. The rate of transformation, both within businesses and of their customers, leaves companies struggling to adapt. We have to be their partners to help them navigate this new normal and even newer normals to come.

History tells us the winners are on the side that embraces change, rather than rejects it. And to embrace this change, and establish our members and our industry as true partners for growth for our clients, we have to reimagine what it means to be champions for creativity, effectiveness and value.

What the future of advertising looks like

What this reimagining looks like will be a coming together of all that is best within advertising. We will look to build on the strong reputation the UK advertising sector already enjoys on the world stage and build partnerships reinforcing that reputation through world-beating effectiveness and accountability, such as the enhanced collaboration between the IPA and ISBA to map out future growth for both our clients and agencies.

We will be investing heavily in the next generation, continuing our decennial talent funnel review, which we began in 1990 with Marilyn Baxter’s Women in Advertising report and will continue in 2020 by investigating the story behind the industry’s diversity. It’s just one element of our proactive stance on diversity, which sees the launch of the first i-List, a celebration of industry role models, whose actions are driving a more diverse and inclusive advertising industry.

Of course, technology is helping us, forcing us, to reimagine the future of advertising for our clients and it is perhaps no accident that I come from a technology-first world. However, I have actively chosen to be in a creative role because I passionately believe the collision of these worlds will enhance our industry’s relevance, boost its value and improve differentiation.

That, in essence, is what reimagining advertising is going to be about in this coming decade. Understanding what we do best, transforming our role and relationships to adapt to changing times and new technologies, unlock improved outcomes in both revenue and responsibility, and be the best engines of growth for our clients. Together, we can build great futures.