ORLANDO, FL: Creativity in advertising is reaching new heights, but issues such as a lack of diversity, transparency and training require urgent attention, according to Bob Liodice, President/CEO of the Association of National Advertisers (ANA).

Liodice discussed these subjects during a keynote session at the trade body's 2016 Masters of Marketing Conference – and struck an optimistic note regarding the gold-standard campaigns now being produced.

"That body of work is exponentially improving as marketers are being freed from the confines of yesterday's advertising models," he said. (For more, read Warc's exclusive report: Liodice celebrates creative product but faults marketing process.)

"There is nothing wrong with those models: They are foundational to our long-term brand-building strategies. But, now, the use of video and social media opens so many pathways for sharing and provides incredible creative opportunities."

While the quality of advertising is on an upward trend – "I don't think creativity has ever been better," said Liodice – the same description cannot be applied to several other aspects of the industry's activity.

Some of these issues involve the "draining" problems of advertising fraud, viewability concerns, a shortage of transparency and the rise of ad blocking.

Furthermore, marketers must address an "unintelligible" digital media supply chain, an "overworked and undertrained" talent pool, unending measurement debates and anxiety around privacy and regulation.

Additionally, there is an urgent need to enhance diversity throughout the entire marketing ecosystem in order to make sure it is truly representative of the consumers it serves.

"Our current situation is undesirable, unproductive, and unsustainable. Our industry needs to do better. And our industry must do better," said Liodice.

Client-side executives, in particular, should redouble their efforts. "It's simple: Marketers own the brands; they have the financial resources that fuel the industry; they command the marketing decision-making process," Liodice said.

The ANA is taking steps to resolve these problems, such as by forming the Masters Circle, a group that will "unify individual CMO agendas and create a powerful leadership force to transform and lead the industry," said Liodice.

"CMOs can no longer let others do the heavy lifting. If CMOs want something, they have to lead the way," he added.

Another progressive program is the ANA Talent Challenge, an initiative spearheaded by senior leaders including Linda Boff, General Electric's CMO, and John Iwata, IBM's SVP/Marketing and Communications.

"Without quality talent, this industry's future is questionable," Liodice warned.

Data sourced from Warc