21 July 2007

The future of the media agency.

DIFFUSION was recently asked by a London based agency to look at how media agencies build new business and access clients.

Here's our response.

Media agencies, like all within their category, need to re-examine how they engage with client’s brands and what their roles are in this process. Increasingly media agencies will need to take more of a stewardship role, rather than continue to adopt what I call the agent or carrier role. They will need to go beyond simple single channel thinking, creative responses and one-dimensional strategy and work more closely with client brands at much higher levels.

Agencies need to build excitement, momentum, loyalty, equity and, most importantly, business for their brands and those of their clients. Agencies will need to look at more complete brand portfolio approaches, where they look to work with clients to develop real brand management strategies that embrace every customer touch point; they need to conceive and develop differentiating ideas (for the most part they create non-differentiating ones); and execute with both creativity and thus daring media planning.

Agencies need to really understand the consumer experience – both how people interact with the brand online and offline – as well as how they consume and define the brands they use – will succeed.

Agencies will need to move beyond the idea of "campaign" or the success of campaigns, replacing this with a series of what I call client interactions or engagements within the development of the brand. They should be using all available data driven insights to inform the development of strategic brand portfolio (media) planning across the wide arc of a customer’s interaction with the brand, rather than those interactions which are linked to limited tactical assignments agencies are used to. Furher, agencies will need to create scaled solutions in specific emerging media channels, rather than continuing to cling to those compensations models that are unscaleable.

Increasingly media agencies must embrace those compensation mechanisms that reward the quality of the idea (and here I don’t just mean the advertising idea but a brand one), rather than simply the media idea itself, its execution and tailoring fees to the needs, circumstances and culture of each individual client, rather than a one-size fits all approach. For example, not charging clients fees upfront for any creative work, or charging only for data analysis. All of this needs to be addressed.

My experience with the now defunct 360 agency here in Sydney demonstrates the need for agencies to break down those internal silo approaches that effectively work against widening new business and start doing what they tell their clients to do, provide true integration rather than simply department-to-department billing in the guise of an integrated model. Silos don’t work simply because they foster inwardness and comfort and neither will the agencies that continue to embrace this. This includes media agencies. Welcome to the network. Where increasingly agencies will work within micro-network models to best meet client needs rather than continue to propound the full-service models, which most people will acknowledge are more puffery than reality.

Finally, media agencies need to concentrate on their chief differentiator – their people. In the end this is how businesses win business.

1 comment:

Lena said...

Absolutely the fact that the industry has changed over the past decade with respect to the prioritisation of medium of communication, a media agency for survival has to be as dynamic.