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Industry Trends: What Ad Age’s Annual Rankings Mean for Experience Marketers

Industry Trends: What Ad Age’s Annual Rankings Mean for Experience Marketers

Hint: Big growth in events, digital, and industry marketing

Bradley Johnson’s annual industry benchmark, the Ad Age ranking of top global agencies, is out and, as always, the report provides both an illuminating review and a look forward for marketers of all disciplines. The study unveils some of the dramatic changes in the agency landscape, driven by brands’ need to rightsize the marketing mix, and shows a continued evolution from traditional media into more integrated models.

A deeper dive into the data shows great news for marketers of all categories, with overall agency revenue from all marketing disciplines growing significantly last year compared to the prior year. U.S. agency revenue increased 5.4 percent, achieving an incredible record of $43.6 billion in sales in 2014!*

In addition to the overall growth of marketing agency revenue, a few significant trends stand out for experiential marketers:

Experiential Growth Outperforms (Almost All) Other Marketing Channels

Researchers at Ad Age noted that overall U.S. promotion-agency revenue, including events and experiential, rose 5.8 percent over the prior year—an increase greater than media (1 percent), advertising (4.4 percent), and PR (5.3 percent). The data shows experiential marketing and live engagements are commanding a more significant piece of the marketing mix, affirming that marketers are optimizing the face-to-face channel to drive brand experience, increase lead generation, and generate the all-important data points marketers crave. The rise of younger generations and the predisposition of both Millennials and Gen Zers to seek out experiences may continue to keep marketers focused on brand experience as the center point of integrated marketing.

Digital, Digital, Digital

As Ad Age stated, “It's a good time to be in the agency game—at least if you're connected to digital.” Marketing continues to go high tech, with digital growing 9.8 percent and capturing an incredible 40 percent of 2014 total U.S. agency revenue. And why shouldn’t marketers flock to digital? Digital is always on and highly measurable. Experience marketers should be leveraging an event’s digital power to the fullest, from marketing campaigns including mobile-friendly emails, event websites, and registration to content amplification strategies like streaming video, always-on content hubs, and social media extensions, as well as optimized engagement platforms like second screens and iBeacons. All of these, plus emerging new devices like the Apple Watch, will provide an incredible array of behavior tracking and data points to enable live events to go toe to toe with straight digital in the measurement department.

The Healthiest Industry is…

Healthcare marketing is roaring. It is the fastest-growing segment of all agency revenue, increasing 10.3 percent year over year. Driving factors include shifts in patient needs, an aging population, the Affordable Care Act, a robust pipeline, and advancements in technology. We’ve seen these changes in the event space through increased investment in the channel, plus the growth of consumer-focused fit tech, which impacted many events this year, including SXSW, Mobile World Congress, and CES.

 And One Downside

It can’t be all good news, right? All this growth means employment is reaching an all-time high. There is now more demand than ever for creative talent across all disciplines, which means the talent war may be just beginning.

 —

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 *Revenue and growth rates are based on Ad Age Datacenter's bottoms-up analysis of more than 1,000 agencies, agency networks, and agency companies included in Agency Report 2015.
Image: Shutterstock

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Chris cavanaugh

Chris Cavanaugh

EVP & Chief Marketing Officer
Freeman

Chris founded FreemanXP to meet the strategic demands of a changing marketplace by connecting individuals and brands in ways that create transformational change on a global scale. FreemanXP has since gone on to become the largest global experience marketing agency in the industry.

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Alison Jenks

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