One of the most profound trends of the last decade is the specialization of the marketing workforce. The growth of digital channels, it seems, has created a huge demand for experts who are deep in the smallest of niches.
All of this seems to be good for the advertising industry. Ad Age reported last month that U.S. ad agency employment is at its highest level since 2001. This is an indication of how the agency business is successfully navigating marketing's transition to digital.
That said, there are now several major ecosystem challenges that loom large. And these are impacting how content is discovered, consumed and monetized and will make marketing even more difficult.
Specifically, these trends include:
Media proliferation: infinite content, yet finite attention.
Social personalization: content flowing via the lens of friends.
Advertising frustration: ad blocking, viewability and bot fraud.
Taken together, this will make it harder and harder for brands to get their message across. And it creates a need for a new class of marketing jedis -- those who will thrive as generalists.
Specialist generalists, as I call them, are integrators who can see the entire ecosystem as a whole. They are deep at one thing: extending the lifecycle of a narrative via the right mix of paid, earned and owned tactics.
How does one become such a specialist generalist? It starts with studying how consumption writ large is changing and embracing systems thinking.
At our firm, we are cultivating this by codifying a view of the ecosystem we call the Edelman Cloverleaf. This framework is comprised of two overlapping spheres of influence: those who create and publish content and a more dominant group of technology platforms that distribute it.