In this guest post, the Speed Agency’s Ian Perrin (lead image), argues when it comes to innovation, the indies are leaving the multinationals for dead…
I was recently frustrated to hear a multinational media agency boss say on stage at Advertising Week that “in a media agency we haven’t done a lot to change, we are still doing the same shit and same tonnage of stuff”. While I whole-heartedly agree that multi-national agency groups have done little to innovate, its wrong to tarnish the whole industry with the same brush.
If the multi-national groups want to see where innovation and “new shit” is truly happening, then they need to open their eyes to what indies are doing, understand why they are losing business to them, and ultimately why they are winning all the awards.
The central problem rests with a turn of the century view of what media solutions are, and how agencies should solve them. It is a view predicated on the notion of scale (“tonnage”) where the agency exists to accumulate billings. And the agency with the most wins on price very time. Now obviously there is value in scale and rates, but if they are primary drivers of an agencies output, then that agency will deliver the same cheap cookie-cutter media plan time after time. This might be ok if linear TV is the primary communications channel, but in a biddable digital media environment where business results matter more, its dinosaurian.
I can’t speak for every indie out there, but I am pretty sure most would agree that there are three fundamental areas where we are innovating:
For legacy agency models the key inhibitor of change is structure and process. In this regard new age agencies are leaning into integration over silo’s, managing workload and capacity with technology and using flat management systems that expedite decision making.
With an operating model built on maximising tonnage, legacy agencies focus their output on media buying, and mostly undervalue the importance of insight and strategy. And worse still, data analytics, which should be integrated into every element of the media ecosystem, is segregated as a different business with its own P&L. New age agencies leverage analytics to drive strategic, objective, and innovative solutions.
As mentioned above, legacy models fixate on winning billings at all costs, knowing that they can either make margin through their arbitrage arrangements, or by selling auxiliary services. “You need more programmatic display Mr Client” is a favourite refrain. New age agencies understand that clients expect results and will pay for them if the partnership is transparent. This enables new commercial models that put greater emphasis on performance.
Media inventory isn’t a commodity purchased in tonnage for the lowest possible price in the same shit way, it’s an important investment, that when planned and bought correctly can deliver growth. As soon as all media agencies understand this the better.
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