Media Industry and Consumers  

New Advertising Agency Roles in the Ever-Expanding Media Landscape

The continued shift from traditional media to digital promotion has forced advertising agencies to rethink how they best capitalize on technology platforms and the organizational structure to support it.

A recent study sought to better understand new roles and functions at ad agencies in response to the shift in the advertising landscape and how that has affected the campaign development process.

The researchers, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Advertising Assistant Professor Kasey Windels and Mark Stuhlfaut from the University of Kentucky College of Communication and Information, conducted interviews with 34 senior-level practitioners from 19 diverse agencies.

As a result of the interviews, 14 new roles have emerged to better accommodate digital technologies and new media. According to the authors, “Agencies are hiring people with degrees in computer science, design, and public relations,” alongside those with traditional advertising degrees.

The new job titles include client engagement manager, communications planner, user experience strategists, digital strategist, community manager/social strategist, content strategist, creative technologists, user experience designer, digital/interactive designer, front-end developer, back-end developer and quality analyst.

For example, “user experience strategists” were added to maximize all of the digital touch points in a consumer’s journey. The UX strategist has expertise in consumer behavior and decision-making processes, user-centered research, determining the type of content at each touch point, and identifying how to evaluate success along the journey.

This study provides a foundation to delve more deeply into specific positions and how the digital landscape has influenced their roles within the campaign strategy. They found that these new roles are accompanied by high complexity, and they help advertising agencies take full advantage of the digital media platform to maximize campaigns.

Understanding these new roles and how they contribute to advertising development can help agencies better understand how to achieve client goals, use available resources, and resolve conflicts. The new media environment’s complexity has resulted in the need for more people to coordinate agency efforts and more people to strategize, conceptualize, and produce effective messages. This study provides evidence that agencies are adapting to better integrate technology, through technology specialists, into all aspects of the campaign development process, including account management, strategy, and creative.

According to the authors, “The Internet has brought the expansion of media channels, causing advertising agencies to adapt quickly. This study suggests that agencies have shifted from framing technology in terms of a production activity to be tacked on to the creative process to framing technology in terms of its strategic value throughout the campaign development process. Professionals and educators need to take note of these new roles to better train and hire people who will increase agency speed and efficiency while ensuring campaigns are strategically integrated.”

The original research paper, New Advertising Agency Roles in the Ever-Expanding Media Landscape,” appeared in Journal of Current Issues & Research in Advertising, published online on Nov. 27, 2018.

 Authors: Kasey Windels, Ph.D., University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications and Mark Stuhlfaut, Ph.D., University of Kentucky College of Communications and Information.

This summary was written by doctoral student Brett Ball.

Posted: July 16, 2019
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