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Cycles in the Advertising Industry

Did you know that there are people trying to find you?

It's true! Many, many people want to reach you. They're called advertisers. And their glamorous, fast-paced industry is undergoing big changes.

People who work in advertising prepare ads for companies. Their mission is to help sell products or services by getting the best possible exposure.

Nowadays, ads are placed in any of a range of media -- from print and broadcast media to interactive, web-based media sources.

"The advertising industry is going through big changes," says Drew Dougherty. He's the creative director for a surf clothing manufacturer.

Today's advertisers have lots of choices of different media.

"Ten years ago, advertisers could count on 40 percent of the population to be watching the same cable channels," says Dougherty. "Now, advertisers can count on about 15 percent of the population to be watching those same channels."

So where did everyone go?

Just ask yourself. You may be watching specialty digital channels or surfing the web. You may be reading any number of magazines.

"It's definitely become trickier to do media buys," says Randy Scotland. He's an advertising guru for the Association of Canadian Advertisers.

Another trend is that more of the advertising work is being done in-house. That means that more companies hire staff that create the ads themselves, instead of hiring ad agencies to do that work for them. That's according to Dougherty.

Dougherty says many companies are now managing their own websites internally. "People realized it was not as difficult as it first appeared. Fewer companies are paying outside consulting companies for this service," he says.

Experts say that corporate attention to bottom line results is also impacting the industry.

"Increasingly, CEOs are looking to maximize the return on the investment that they are achieving from advertising," says Scotland.

"In the glory days of the 1950s, '60s and '70s, companies spent big money on advertising. Those were the days of the three-martini lunches. Money flowed like water.

"It began to change in the '80s. There was a stronger movement for accountability. Companies began demanding to see their ad money working hard for them. This only increased in fervour in the '90s and 21st century," says Scotland.

Leslee Vivian has been in the advertising industry for more than 20 years. Now she works for The Ad Club, a networking and educational organization for ad professionals.

She says more and more companies are trying marketing and promotion activities, not just advertising, to help sell their products.

"There's been a shift away from national brand advertising spending to promotional activities and things like direct marketing," she says.

Dougherty agrees. "The areas of public relations and promotions are becoming more and more important now. There are more ways of reaching customers than straight advertising."

Stu Ginsburg works for the Interactive Advertising Bureau in New York. He says the best opportunities for work in advertising are in major markets like New York, San Francisco or Chicago.

"Take any job offered and work it," he suggests.

"It's a growing business. Job prospects are pretty good," says Scotland. "Companies are only as good as the brands they market. There's recognition of that."

There are many facets within the ad industry itself, such as sales, marketing, research and planning, notes Dougherty.

"There are lots of opportunities for graphic designers. There's always a need for good artists," he says.

Dougherty says it's important to pay attention to the marketing and consumer side of the business. Companies have to find successful ways to promote their brand and keep the brand valuable.

In Dougherty's case, the "brand" is surf wear. One of the ways his company promotes its brand is by sponsoring a large surfing event.

"It's all about PR," he says.

Dougherty also says opportunities exist outside of the traditional advertising industry. "There's all kinds of new magazines and newspapers, new digital channels and new internet websites. These are all creating new jobs in the industry."

But experts say you'll need more than creative skills to make it in the business these days.

"You've got to have business savvy," says Dougherty. "You've got to be super creative. To be successful, you've got to have both creative and business skills."

Scotland emphasizes the importance of knowing consumer and corporate trends. "You need to do your homework. You need to understand the concerns of today's corporations."

Vivian points out the importance of working effectively in a team. "You're working with a group to achieve a goal. I know people who have been let go because they didn't know how to work in a group."

She also advises that you be prepared for long hours. "Ad agencies will get every ounce of juice out of you that they can. Be prepared to work hard and pay your dues."


American Marketing Association
Check out this national association of marketing professionals

Interactive Advertising Bureau
This group is focused on promoting the effectiveness of interactive advertising

Art Center College of Design
A prestigious school offering art and design programs in Pasadena, California

Ad Week Magazine
Get the latest news

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