In the 1950 film "Sunset Blvd.," Gloria Swanson stars as Norma Desmond, a faded, long-forgotten silent-movie star who lives in a fantasy world. When screenwriter Joe Gillis (played by William Holden) accidentally wanders into Desmond's seemingly deserted mansion, he recognizes her immediately.
Joe: "You're Norma Desmond. You used to be in silent pictures. You used to be big."
Norma: “I am big. It's the pictures that got small.”
Madison Avenue, too, is getting smaller. Figuratively and literally. For the first time on record, the number of advertising-specific jobs in the U.S. is declining in the middle of an economic expansion. The number of agency positions fell by about 7,000 last year. Advertising is getting smaller as the holding companies have been consolidating their operations, combining agencies and selling assets.
Margins are being squeezed and agencies have resorted to price competition. Budgets are smaller as clients divert activities and funds from agencies to in-housing. Not to mention the duopoly of Facebook and Google, which has disintermediated the agencies. Last year, 90% of the growth in the digital-advertising business went to these two mega giants.