TikTok Toe – Congress Voted To Ban TikTok

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Congress voted to ban Tik Tok today…

While  I do not think that this bill will win in the Senate and become a law, it does raise some interesting issues for all of us in the world of advertising and digital media. Let’s face it…the platforms that we use to grow our own businesses (and serve our clients), ranging from email to social media to search to marketplaces to whatever, are transient. Algorithmic changes can decimate a business. A platform level advertising ban can send the most aggressively growing company into a sudden stop. Missing a few lines of code in your DNS settings can reduce the value of your email list to near zero.


Earlier in the week, email service provider Klaviyo announced their entry into professional services…

And there are rumours that ecommerce platform Shopify will do so in the coming months (read Rick Watson’s recent post hinting towards this – and if you don’t follow Rick on LinkedIn, you are missing out). (It should be noted that agency services and professional services aren’t the same thing, but it feels like a slippery slope to many.) For years, Google & Meta have been tiptoeing around offering services directly to marketers.


Between not really owning our presence on platforms & encroaching services from the platforms themselves, is the agency model suddenly under attack?

Well, frankly, not any more than it was a month ago or a year ago. But in a recent Fast Company article, there was an interesting take on what clients are willing to pay for…execution and iteration is no longer worth what it once was. Think about it – tools like Canva makes quality design accessible to many, Elementor makes it easy to build a great looking website, OpenAI & Gemini make it easy to create reasonable quality text and images, and interesting startups like Pencil want to generate compelling ad creatives for you.


Well, jeez, Tim, with all of the platforms attacking us & software coming to take our jobs & marketers not wanting to pay for execution & iteration, it certainly seems like we are under attack!

No, you just have to remember what your real value is. Here is a quick story, a million years ago, my agency was really, really good at writing AdWords scripts. We could optimize spend like crazy using that tool – I think we were like top 5% in the world good at it. I thought that was our value – pushing buttons to manage spend. When I was thinking about selling that agency, I started asking our clients what our value was. Not a single client mentioned our AdWords scripting and automation prowess. They said that our value was really in translating their brand speak into keywords that their audience would use. And on top of that, we wrote really good search ads that used a deep understanding of the audience – and we insisted that search traffic go somewhere that reflected that language and understanding.


Even though we were super-advanced in automations and were doing crazy stuff with predictive analytics (this was back in 2014) and were investing SOOOOO much in building out those capabilities, that wasn’t what our clients appreciated. They thought that our real value was in deeply understanding the connection between their brand and their target audience and being able to express that in a way that they could not.


After investing almost 3 years worth of profit into technology, our clients liked our way of thinking, our skills at marketing and our ability to attract their audience in a way that they could not.


Marketers will pay for the thinking that makes them better. Marketers will pay for new ideas and pathways to execute. Marketers will pay for your creativity, your insight, and your empathy. AI & platforms can’t take that away.


Talk next week,


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