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New York-based veteran of advertising, R/GA’s Bob Greenberg, on what lies ahead in business and advertising

Busi­ness devel­op­ment man­agers who vis­it these pages will be aware that we often like to focus on up-and-com­ing com­pa­nies here; but every now and then, a dis­tin­guished vet­er­an of Adland offers some insights that are too impor­tant to ignore. Bob Green­berg, co-founder, CEO and Chair­man of adver­tis­ing agency R/GA has been doing a lit­tle ‘wis­dom dis­pens­ing’ as he pre­pares to be induct­ed into AdAge’s Adver­tis­ing Hall of Fame. If you’re a busi­ness devel­op­ment man­ag­er who likes cre­ativ­i­ty heav­i­ly laced with wis­dom, Green­berg is too good to be missed.

Func­tion­al Integration

He told AdAge that adver­tis­ing agen­cies face excit­ing but dis­ori­en­tat­ing dis­rup­tions, per­haps the most piv­otal of which will be the sys­tem­at­ic inter­sec­tion of tech­nol­o­gy (includ­ing infor­ma­tion and the inter­ac­tive aspects of the inter­net like mobile and social) with phys­i­cal space, most espe­cial­ly retail.

He calls this “func­tion­al inte­gra­tion”, a devel­op­ment which places the con­sumer at the cen­ter sur­round­ed by ser­vices and prod­ucts. This was essen­tial­ly what Apple and Google real­ized. Green­berg explained:

“What [Steve] Jobs was able to do was to cre­ate prod­ucts and ser­vices that were inte­grat­ed so the con­sumer would buy many of them rather than just one. So the new mod­els are what we call func­tion­al­ly inte­grat­ed com­pa­nies that have prod­ucts and ser­vices that tie togeth­er into a plat­form and then into an ecosystem.”

Earned data

One part of the company’s prod­uct and ser­vice reper­toire builds on anoth­er, like Nike+Fuel, to pro­duce what the com­pa­ny itself calls “a sin­gle, uni­ver­sal way to mea­sure all kinds of activ­i­ties, from your morn­ing run to your big night out.”

And on the sub­ject of prod­ucts like this that col­lect data on user activ­i­ty, Green­berg wagers that the empha­sis is now shift­ing from big data to what he calls “earned data”: if you’re a mem­ber of a run­ning club, for exam­ple, you won’t be put off by the fact that Nike+ Fuel­Band shares your infor­ma­tion because it gets com­bined and fed back to you in a use­ful way. It’s “earned” as opposed to sim­ply taken.

Inter­est­ing­ly for busi­ness devel­op­ment man­agers who focus on online adver­tis­ing sales, Green­berg thinks there will be a move toward TV adver­tis­ing again rather than a sim­ple, inex­orable shift to online, mobile and social.

Sto­ry­telling, Green­berg says, isn’t going away – which is why R/GA has start­ed get­ting back into TV ads.

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