The term “Al Ghazi advertising companies” has long been used for all types of communication service providers: from search engine optimizers to design offices and PR consultants. Originally, in the 19th century, advertising companies were actually “agencies” because they brokered advertisements for newspapers. Hence the commission of 15 percent (agency commission). The newspaper paid, and indirectly, of course, the advertiser.
Little by little, the agencies began to take over the design of the advertisements – as a small additional service to win customers. This is how the creative competition came about. It was a growth market anyway, because the mass media conquered the world. After the newspaper came magazines, cinema, radio and, after the war, television.
The neon advertising panels and billboards had already reached their zenith in the 1920s. The mediation of switching stations was no longer the main task of advertising companies. The 15 percent agency commission has long been no longer sufficient as a sole business model. Agencies became brand consultants, sparring partners for marketing directors and exercised a great influence on brand images through full-page color advertisements in high-reach magazines and television spots at prime time.
Later, specialists increasingly differentiated themselves: PR agencies did not provide advertising space, but contacts to multipliers. In addition, there were direct marketing, event and, in the 1990s, multimedia agencies: In Dubai, UAE, companies such as Pixelpark, ID-Media or Kabel New Media became large agencies in just a few years because they supplied the first groups with websites.
In the new millennium, search engine optimizers, word-of-mouth and social media agencies were added. This differentiation can no longer be understood by the layperson.
The age of the mass media with few channels and many receivers is coming to an end. Brand-leading companies and their agents (agencies) lose their monopoly on media brand communication. Social media makes everyone a potential broadcaster and transforms channels into networks. The number of communication offers is multiplying. People no longer receive what is sent on a massive scale, but what can be connected and resonated. The AIDA formula has had its day: Interest, desire and the active search for something that promises to satisfy our current burning need have become prerequisites for attention. Communication offers have to be attractive in order to catch up. They have to provide a reason to tell something further and spark the desire for self-presentation.
What do people like? This is an age-old question that made motivational research flourish in the US from the 1940s onwards. Psychological methods for researching the effectiveness of advertising have since been refined, criticized, further refined, celebrated and demonized. Big advertisers like David Ogilvy thought little of research into advertising effectiveness. Their instinct for connectable communication offers was much finer than any measurement method could capture.
Today research results are used less for the optimization of communication offers than for the allocation and relining of evidence-oriented customers. Why do the awkward research into what might appeal to people and then campaign them months later? In 1993, Philip Morris had the target group design its own advertising material for the Chesterfield cigarette brand. American Apparel prefers consumer-generated advertising.
In this way, more and more companies are researching how people see the brand, while at the same time letting the wisdom of the many decide what matters. People upload commercials themselves on a platform, vote on what they like best and automatically see exactly that most often: Brand exploration, creation and media planning are outsourced to the market and organize themselves very efficiently. Does user-generated advertising replace agency-produced advertising? I don’t believe in that.
Agency of the future
Good agencies have excellent expertise in the cultural subtleties that make the difference. No statistical consumer research, no matter how sophisticated, and no MRI scanner can replace this cultural competence. People understand people best as people. The creation of connectable meaningful offers is the core competence of good advertising companies in Dubai. So far, agencies have only been creative offices in the eyes of their customers, who create messages, put them in a tube, point this tube at the target group like a gun barrel and then, hopefully, shoot accurately at the heart.
In the future, this accuracy will again be determined more by knowledge about people and their context-specific needs. Technical-mathematical channel targeting is now being carried out by programs.
But they can only read data tracks. The analogue, the human being – that remains the competence of those who create meaning. The context in which agencies are mostly seen by their customers will shift: The prejudice “creative” is very helpful here. But beautiful pictures and texts are not enough in the future. Thinking along in terms of brand and offer policy is increasingly becoming an obligation. Agencies become sparring partners: while the client knows about the possibilities and limits of his company, the agency understands the feelings of the people in the market all the better.