What is the future of Agencies?

Mary Beth KempEarlier this year, Pete Kim and I published  “The Connected Agency”, which looked at the future of advertising agencies.  The idea was to get people talking…and that it did. 

Since the piece came out, I’ve hosted a couple of Agency breakfasts, both here in Paris and in London.  And have also been invited to exchange with some agency teams.  Every time, the conversation was lively, interesting. 

Rather than summarize all the discussions in a research report and push it back at you, I thought it would be more pertinent, and certainly more fun, to continue the conversation with you online.  To kick things off, over the next couple of weeks, I’ll post about those offline exchanges we’ve had. 

The bottom line is most people I spoke with believe agencies have to change. The model we proposed might not be quite the right one; perhaps just one model is too limited for different types of agencies and clients; and surely the timing we put forward is too aggressive (agency management hopes). 

What do you think? 

How do agencies change to take advantage of technology?  How do they change to keep in contact with consumers who avoid, block and distrust advertising?  How do they keep being relevant when there are ad exchanges to manage media placement; and creative networks to deliver content?   

What do you think?   I look forward to ‘talking’ with you. 

In case you haven’t read the research yet, here is the executive summary.  And if you’re a Forrester client, you can access the full report here.

Today's agencies fail to help marketers engage with consumers, who, as a result, are becoming less brand-loyal and more trusting of each other. To turn the tide, marketers will move to the Connected Agency — one that shifts: from making messages to nurturing consumer connections; from delivering push to creating pull interactions; and from orchestrating campaigns to facilitating conversations. Over the next five years, traditional agencies will make this shift; they will start by connecting with consumer communities and will eventually become an integral part of them.

Pete captured quite a few of the online comments in a blog post that you can find on his blog.   



Connected agency and adoption patterns

For those of us who've seen a few pigs go through the python of the agency/client business, I'd say that there's always an adoption stage for a marketing innovation—direct marketing , web, and so on—when "every home should have one"—every company has to have whatever it is and every agency has to tout the capability.

Initially no one really knows what it's for, just that the competition has it so we have to, too. After that there's the shakeout when people start to figure out what they can really do with_____(fill in the blank) and some agencies/clients get it and invest intelligently in it and do wonders and stretch the possibilities. Others not so much.

Connectedness and social media seem to be following the same pattern. The prescient have been writing about it for many years (anyone read a book called "Net Gain"?). For some it's already part of the air they breathe. For others (including pharma, who have their own challenges) it's still a hill to be climbed. The important moment is when it stops being thought of as a separate discipline and becomes part of the way you do business.