Photo: Sequoia Capital
We’ve seen a lot of change in the media business over the last 10 years. One of the biggest evolutions was the formation of the media buying agency. These agencies were formed to aggregate buying power, derive value from planning and buying, create efficiency by reducing costs and expedite the overall process.
This change put the creative agency on their heels and destroyed the full-service agency model by separating strategy, account management, media planning and creative.
Suddenly multiple agencies were involved in the process, all with varying visions for how to execute the client plan and causing confusion among the sellers who called on the agency(s). It was no longer clear who was driving strategy.
We are now in the midst of another evolution in media planning and buying. The introduction of the agency trading desks has brought more complication and fragmentation into the service model. This new type of media agency is overtaking the traditional media agency and requires employees to have new skills focused on data analysis, technology and optimization.
Interestingly, the trading desk is buying a highly commoditized media where data is focused on audience segmentation, but does not consider the creative execution and the environment (e.g. the placement or context).
What role is left for the traditional media agency in the new digital economy? Some believe the media agency will also evolve, retaining account relations and focusing more on strategy. I disagree. The media agency is lost in an ever widening chasm between highly-creative, focused execution and fully-automated audience buying, leaving them without direction and purpose.
The expected massive shift of TV dollars to digital this year will put even more pressure on the traditional media agency to find its place in the value chain. This shift will have the client demanding more attention be paid to digital video creative. I anticipate that clients will demand improved quality, engagement and integration with content. We have already seen this happen with high-impact rich media units, with the creative agency dictating the placements while the media agency simply fulfils an administrative service.
I would argue that the media agency adds undue overhead and doesn’t service the client’s best interests. My prediction is that the creative agency will regain control of media strategy, forming a new breed of full-service agencies that complement the new audience buying firms. This is a bold prediction, but with the commoditization of digital media and the need for better online video, the creative agency is poised to take on management of the client relationship and dramatically improve the consumers’ experience with advertising creative.
The benefits are obvious:
- Online creative will dramatically improve, thus driving customer satisfaction and increasing overall performance of campaigns
- Clients will once again be working with agency partners who are thinking holistically about their brand and executing on a strategy across all media channels to maximise consumer touch points with optimal reach, frequency and exposure
- Sellers will have a single agent to work with on deep, integrated, exciting programs that should better support the brand’s image, strategy and objectives
What do you think? Does the creative agency have what it takes to regain the client relationship, put digital at the centre to drive all media touch points, both online and off, and exponentially improve the quality of ad creative online?
The views expressed here reflect the views of the author alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of 24/7 Real Media, its affiliates, subsidiaries or its parent company, WPP plc.
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