Agency Futurescoping

Still pitching. It’s all a bit pressured at the moment. But we’re getting there, and it seems to be going well. Touch wood.

Anyway, there’s life after next Tuesday – in fact, immediately after the pitch, I’m supposed to be doing a talk to our grads about ‘the future of the media agency’. I think what they’re really after is a slightly provocative and rousing ‘who’s going to hold more sway in the future world of comms’ type turn – ‘us’ (media) vs. ‘them’ (creative agencies) – with media ultimately winning.

Obviously any such battle would inevitably result in a Phyrric victory (in-fighting is always messy), so rather than talk about some big balls fight for dominance, I’d much rather talk about how we can restructure our approach as an entire industry to produce the best ideas and work for our clients (we need to be lovers not fighters).

But, as my crystal ball is still a bit dusty, any thoughts? How should we approach client problems to get the best results? What’s the most effective way of coming up with ideas that work cross platform and beyond advertising? Should the comms/account planning roles be fused? What role do media owners have in all of this? Is the creative/media divide actually as divisive as I think – do we need to change at all?

Answers on a postcard please… your name could be echoing through the halls of Parker Tower (amongst grads at least) for weeks to come.

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6 Responses to “Agency Futurescoping”

  1. Jason Lonsdale Says:

    Bullmore wrote a great piece on this in Campaign a few months back.. in short, media buying will become an automated, eBay-like process (cf Google) and media buying will come back into creative agencies where it belongs.

    And who am I to disagree? My last agency was the rather wonderful Colenso BBDO and a huge part of our success (both in terms of creative and effectiveness) was owing to the fact that we still had our own media function in house.

    It’s worth remembering that the media companies were only split off from creative agencies in the first place so that the newly-emergent holding companies could profit from economies of scale… it was never really in the clients interests, and (ironically, as it turns out) not in the interests of the industry over all.

    On another note, did you read Russell’s piece about Blag magazine? Again, worth digging up.

  2. Gagey Says:

    It’s my belief that we might actually see a very radical change / breakdown in the whole agency structure.

    Rather than hiring an agency, a client will hire / handpick a group of talented individuals to work on a piece of business from an ideas and strategy perspective. This talented group will include people who may have traditional sat in account planning / comms planning / data planning / creative / design / brand planning / research / account management / media planning etc. etc.

    [and this list should be extended to include people outside of the agency world with talents that are unfortunately not often included: academia; technology coders/geeks; psychologists; therapists & social workers; journalists; and other fanatics across many different fields..]

    The fixed overhead costs (of fancy London offices, archaic media tools & IT and lots of inefficient people) that bump up current agency fees can be removed as clients will pay for genuine talent (& maybe even ideas!). And these talented individuals can be freed from whatever their ‘master agency’ is trying to make money out of this month…. and focus on a genuinely inclusive / neutral idea.

    This current planning blogging community is already evidence that people would rather work / discuss things with each other rather than work just with whoever happens to be in their agency… I think.

    Stuff like media buying / reporting / analytics etc. will be 70% replaced by technology, and the rest out-sourced to other countries where labour costs are lower and talents are arguably higher…

    So interestingly, the role of recruitment agent might change to be more like a film star’s agent – looking after individuals and getting them the best projects to work on for the best fees.

    And it will mean that top talent will have to have balls to break free from the comfort of the agency world and effectively be freelance. But losing the requirements of management and corporate politics is something that I would suggest most of these talented individuals would be more than happy to accept!

    Maybe one day I’ll write a short comment…

  3. Asi Says:

    read this piece on Anomaly. (there was one in campaign about 4 months ago)

    http://money.cnn.com/magazines/business2/business2_archive/2007/02/01/8398979/index.htm?postversion=2007021305

    best

    A.

  4. neilperkin Says:

    Just caught this so coming in a little late but here’s a couple of points. I think that along with the blurring of lines between job functions (sales, marketing, planning, research) there will follow a blurring of the lines between media owners, creative agencies, media agencies and research companies. You see this happening already in savvy digital organisations where editorial staff think about search engine optimisation, sales staff think about added value for the user etc. The companies that don’t get this will be the ones left behind, but it requires a fundamental shift in how we view the skills our staff have, and what we look for in our people.
    Also, I think the value that media owners can provide will change the relationship we have with agencies. Transactional stuff will still go on of-course, but I think where we will end up spending our time is in the more intangible areas – better ad solutions come from better insight. Increasingly what defines us as media owners is less our method or channel of distribution but the communities we serve. Savvy media owners will use the expertise they have of their audiences to help deliver valuable consumer insight which will in turn help agencies to provide better solutions for their clients. That’s where the interesting stuff will happen.

  5. Alex Jena Says:

    bloody useful and insightful stuff! Thanks for your time. This man can see the future

  6. Doug Says:

    thanks all for your help on this and thanks alex for your overly kind words!! certainly a fertile (and very interesting not to mention important!) area of debate

    cheers

    GD

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