The role of advertisement in commerce, trade and industry has been significant for many decades from now but in recent times it has been witnessing a revolutionary transformation both in terms of the agents and agencies which have been at the forefront and their creative and productive contribution in helping to attain the dizzy heights advertisement and advertisement agencies enjoy today. It is a far cry from the days when the role of advertisement was low-key and almost peripheral. But advertisement did exist some thousands of years back. For instance, there were startling finds from the ruins of Rome evidencing existence of advertisement offering property for rent. In Egypt three thousand years ago papyrus sheets were used carrying rewards for catching runaway slaves. It would be quite logical to state that since its advent from time immemorial it has been going from strength to strength as an indispensable and powerful tool for marketing. If there has been any change at all, it is in the realm of media – from papyrus to ‘viral marketing’, quite a long way traversed. Its decisive sway on their purchase decisions has brought it into the center-stage.  No company can afford to be indifferent to its all-pervasive influence in shaping up tastes, choices of its prospective customers, clientele and others. As a logical development, there has been spectacular growth in the number of advertisements outfits or agencies which have appeared in the scene of advertisement to cater to the diverse needs of their customers or clientele.  

It is worth asking ourselves as to what advertisement essentially means.  It nothing but a form of communication with the world or to be more specific with the people who are identified as the class susceptible to persuasive overtures on the part of makers or manufacturers of products or providers of services. Such is its power that it would be apt to quote Joseph E. Levine: “You can fool all the people all the time if the advertising is right ..” A study of the developments taking place in the space of last two decades would reveal a breath-taking emergence of new platforms or media which have virtually taken the world by storm.  

The rise in significant numbers of advertisement agencies or outfits with ever growing ambitions to expand even beyond the contours of their national borders has to be seen in the light of the overriding importance being attached by companies of all kinds – be these big, medium or small, using creative advertisements to bring the hidden or latent desires, wants crystallizing theses into strong demands to be catered to by them.  A study into the budgets allocated for promotion of production tapping the vehicle of advertisements by some of the leading multinational companies goes to validate the proposition that reliance on advertisement to achieve their ends of growth in sales and revenues is likely to be more and more in the years and decades to come and more intense would be the competition amongst advertising agencies to bag big accounts of leading houses. Local advertising outfits which hitherto remained content serving the local markets for advertisement have started to harbor ambitions to grow big enough to exploit opportunities thrown up by globalization and have been working very hard to have their shares in the global advertising pie. And they have been pursuing aggressive policies to establish and expand in different parts of the globe.

Globalization of Advertisement Agencies – Expanding Beyond Boundaries

At the beginning of the decade 1980, a trend in the advertisement industry was unmistakably discernible that the lead players which are advertisement agencies having started the process of globalizing their operations riding on the phenomenon of increasing globalization of world trade and culture.  For instance, China the economic super power today began unshackling its economic environment from the rigors of the Communist system in the early part of the said decade and its pursuit of aggressive economic policies barely makes it any different from other leading economic powers of the world.  Similarly India too followed in the footsteps of China in opening up its economy in the early 90s like a few other important economies of the world. Thus, the doors were opened to the outside world for economic advantages and benefits which included the advertisement industry. The advertising agencies were quick enough to seize upon these emergent opportunities to establish themselves beyond local shores. Given to the significance of the role of advertisement and advertisement agencies, it can be said that the role is one of ‘catalysts’. The advertising agencies actually serve as connectors between the broad spectrum of ‘production’ and ‘consumption’. On the one hand the production has been growing at a massive scale throughout the world with corresponding consumption growing tremendously helped by spirited advertisement efforts on the other hand. There are several issues like internationalization of local cultures and consequent transformations in change of attitudes, tastes and whatever internationalization brings on for the advertisement agencies to grapple with.  It is no wonder then that advertising outfits have woken up to the need to position themselves as global ones to make use of all the opportunities thrown up by the emerging internationalization process in the advertisement industry.  In this nternationalization process the advertisement agencies have to take into account several vital questions deciding the success of their efforts before committing themselves to such operations. 

A Study of Indian Advertising Scenario 

A close study of the scenario of the Indian advertising field would reveal that its pace of growth, ownership patterns and other relevant aspects have been greatly influenced by the policies of the government pursued from time to time. The first advertisement came into the scene in 1905 with B.Datram and Company to be followed by such famous names like S.H.Bensen, J. Walter Thompson through its Indian associate Hindustan Thompson Associates and a host of others. What should not escape attention is the fact that even in the distant past setting up such associate relationship was existent. With the opening up of the economy in the early 90s, such alliances have been successfully attempted by foreign companies in extending and expanding their operational reach in India.  

Advertising companies like Lintas, Ogilvy and Mather raised their stakes in Indian outfits gradually to place themselves more dominantly in fully utilizing the opportunities thrown up under a liberalized regime. It would be quite on the expected lines if ownership patterns witness more radical changes in the form of acquisition and mergers of existing outfits. 

What Drives Growth in Advertising Industry 

As it has been already stressed earlier that advertisement is basically all about communication with the class or groups targeted by the clients through the agency of advertising agencies and it is the creativity and expertise of these advertising agencies backed by technological innovations which cater to the specific needs of their clientele or customers. With breakdown of all prohibitive and protective barriers which earlier inhibited growth trade, industry and commerce on a global scale, the advertising needs of companies of different countries of the world too have grown exponentially. Discovery of ever growing needs on the part of advertising agencies existing and evolving in all parts of the globe has been spurring this drive for expansion.  This is precisely what has been driving spectacular growth and emergence of advertising agencies with global ambitions. From the Indian perspective alone, the importance of advertisement and the lure for various advertisement agencies to expand and grow could be fairly guessed looking at the quite fantastic growth rates measured at 12% annually.  This does help to have a realistic picture vis-à-vis the global advertising potential.  Streams of revenues too have taken on different characters in recent decades moving away from traditional forms of media like print and television. Apart from broadcasting advertising which mainly consists of media like radio, television and all powerful internet, billboards, kiosks, tradeshows are all various forms of advertising which are known as ‘outdoor advertising’, ‘covert advertising’ etc.

New Age Media and Their Impact on Advertising Agencies and Clients

Surveying the scenario and taking note of the revolutionary developments in the realm of media of advertisement especially the advent of digital media and an equally demanding class of clientele who have been seeking customized solutions to their advertising needs, the advertising agencies too have been at the job of equipping themselves with the cutting edges of technologies and a vast reservoir of creative talents to fulfill and satisfy the demands placed upon them.  It has been a relatively new phenomenon for both purveyors of advertisement as well as the clientele these intend to serve. A critical analysis of the needs of their clients is obviously called for to capture new markets and new clients. We are witness to marked fragmentation in the advertisement markets and the overall business environment in which these outfits operate. Social implications arising out of the emergence of new forms of advertisement like ‘Integrated Marketing’ and ‘Trans-media Storytelling’ which all go into integrating social media for broad formulation of overall advertising and marketing strategies. There has emerged a firm trend with its stress on customization of advertising solutions which are all aimed at providing ‘filtered’ information to the customers who are only interested in them. It is quite evident that such customization does help in meeting the needs of the customers who do not have to travel through the labyrinth of informational lanes to reach their ultimate destination. Although it is always debatable if such an approach does not prevent them from acquiring knowledge in respect of new products and services and experiment with them. The new age forms of advertisement have also brought up the issue of privacy in interactions with customers on the part of the advertisers. Disclosures of personal information in social media networks have created a very ticklish situation leaving a host of social and legal implications. 

Advertisement, Advertisement Agencies and the Future

It is crystal clear that the whole world of advertisement is poised for very significant changes in the years to come with digital technology, new creative media sweeping the advertising landscape. What used to be monologues only with companies putting across their sides of the story either through themselves or advertisement agencies have turned into dialogues with the larger world through social media networks.  With empowerment of consumers and customers whose interactions with products and services are becoming more intimate, more knowledge-based, the manufactures, producers and service providers have to bear in mind these aspects very well and the advertisement agencies too would have to learn, evolve accordingly to cater to the demands of the new age which is likely to see intense competition among the existing players as well as the new entrants. There are challenges, threat as well as rewards and opportunities for advertisement agencies all over the world. The law of ‘survival of the fittest’ would apply with as much effectiveness as it does in other spheres of life.What has already been stated in the foregoing does hint at immense possibilities and prospects of advertising agencies in tapping the opportunities which the sweeping changes being brought about in the economic systems of various countries with emphasis being upon novel digital technologies which has ushered in a new age of opportunities both for companies as well as the ultimate consumers, customers with advertisement agencies playing the most pivotal role in this broad spectrum. 

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