Predictions2020: The Year Ahead for Advertising Agencies

By Reham Mufleh, general manager of Horizon FCB Dubai and Mazen Jawad, president of Horizon Holdings

At Horizon FCB, we believe the best part of a brand’s story is never finished – the part that is always asking what can we do better, and is always wondering what’s next, what’s out there, what’s waiting to be discovered. And it’s not just the story of a brand or an idea; it’s the story of all of us, always moving forward. While we live in a region that constantly brings obstacles and challenges to our path, we’re also the best at learning how to survive, how to build a better future and how to keep evolving and transforming while remaining relevant to our clients, our brands, our people and our consumers. The sudden transformation and rise of Saudi Arabia is one example that demonstrates that this region is rich in surprises and embodies great potential even when the news around you may seem so uncertain – and at times bleak. Today we find ourselves wondering how to keep up with this increasing demand.

It is also needless to say that the success of one of us is the success of all of us, and while we expect the future to maintain based on the agency holding model, and keep investing in its verticals where opportunities exist, we also believe that other offerings will fold into the creative agency. That is, after all, where it once all started. We see more and more clients working the entire creative spectrum with one agency team, whether it’s branding, the brand and tactical communication, the shopper experience or content creation. The creative agency is back in pole position, the key brand guardian at all levels.

The culture of togetherness, bravery and creativity will drive the successful adman or adwoman to progress and bring more people along. People want to feel that they can be part of something big more than being in the middle of something big – whether they are stakeholders, clients or consumers. We’ve seen in the past years a few clients break off from their global alliances to identify more culturally relevant relationships at home in our local markets, where they can be braver together and often produce more rewarding work. We believe that this trend will keep increasing and we are likely to see more clients partnering with whoever they choose on the regional and local level. It’s all about chemistry and relationships, which is the basis for creating great work.

The need for advertising will always exist and grow, however in new forms, in new ways and with more agility. We will keep integrating data, technology and creativity into exciting content that creates and changes behaviour. It’s about getting people’s attention, to make them think, feel and emote, and move them to do something, to act, to change and to live life to the fullest. Give them cause to wander and give them a reason to come back. That’s the circle of brand life, done well; it’s a circle that keeps going.

In-housing is on the increase. You’re expected to have your producers, editors, recording studio and set-up in-house to cater to the advertising that people want to engage with, and at the speed that they want. While it’s a bit more demanding, it’s also more fun and exciting at the same time. This is when we progress and transform while playing. At Horizon FCB we integrated video production in-house. Through an international network of video producers within the global FCB group, this has been a grand success that is more and more in demand. Turning storytelling into engaging content that can air instantly is the name of the game. Video advertising is still the most important marketing medium today, and will remain this way for years to come.

While YouTube is the biggest online video platform, we will see an increase of video streaming on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. So, keep on the lookout for changes in video advertising trends.
As most consumers use their phones for a huge part of their browsing, shopping, news and entertainment experience, mobile-first advertising will remain the base strategy to plan, create and develop work that connects best with all mobile users. It provides information in real time to an intended audience that is easier to target, easier to engage with, with instant action and data that is easier to track. This offers the instant power of optimisation, so you are always getting the best out of your work for the benefit of the consumers and clients alike.

While we have witnessed an increase in demand for programmatic advertising in the past two years, we expect the trend to remain over the next few years and develop further with the introduction of blockchain, the 5G network and voice-activated ads.

We work in an industry that keeps evolving, transforming and changing. It is one that is fun and rewarding to the brave, to the ones who want to positively confront the challenges of tomorrow and keep moving forward where opportunity awaits us. And, just like our industry, at Horizon FCB we believe the best part of a brand’s story is never finished – the part that is always asking what can we do better, and is always wondering what’s next.

Never finished, we await a very exiting 2020.