Do advertising agencies have a future?

The most creative agencies shiver, thinking of a takeover by consulting networks. Calls that traditional communication agencies will soon be redundant are getting louder. Is there any truth to it?

We live in an age of change. Only those who make changes usable for themselves and their customers can survive the digital transformation. The trend can no longer be overlooked: digital consulting firms are threatening traditional advertising agencies and their networks.


Three points of attack on classic agencies

First of all, digital consultants are increasingly taking over creative and specialized agencies. In Germany, these were Aperto, Ecxio, Sinner-Schrader, Mackevision, Cundus and Everett, more than 70 worldwide. Accenture alone invested more than a billion dollars in agency acquisitions.

“Digital consultants are increasingly taking over creative and specialized agencies.”

Companies align their entire structure with customer centricity, focusing on the customer experience. New digital products and services are essential components. “These include structured data, the development of technological know-how, creative competency at the customer touch points and the ability to operate programmatic platforms on a scaled basis,” explains Rainer Balensiefer, head of Accenture Interactive Germany.

The third point is the enticement of highly qualified personnel away from classical and specialised agencies. Thereby, consulting companies provide themselves with the strategic know-how that gives them a consulting advantage over traditional and media agencies.


Digitalization requires change

The decisive factor for this development is first and foremost digitization. Advertisers need to transform their entire organization to reach their customers on all channels, globally in a fragmented digital world. The foundation for this is the ability to merge, evaluate, and organize data. Tasks that media agencies cannot perform.

The same applies to the knowledge of combining creative ideas with technologies. Developing models that show how creation should behave in production and distribution logistics that is the challenge of the moment. Communication currently encompasses the entire chain of experiences, from consulting to technology and creation to implementation. Product and service development as well as distribution are therefore important components of sustainable consulting.

“Communication currently encompasses the entire chain of experiences from consulting to technology and creation to implementation.”

Therefore, the creative ideas of the past alone are not enough to fulfil the wishes of our customers. The creation should be technology-supported and scalable at the touch points with high conversion. To achieve this, different disciplines must be integrated and intertwined. Therefore, digital consultants increasingly take over the tasks of creative and digital agencies, media service providers and production companies when there is a lack of agility and innovative spirit.


Are advertising agencies already superfluous?

Advertising agencies that have not adapted their business to the digital age pay a high price. Even small companies, for which no data streams are categorized and linked, have to face technological processes and digitization. For them, it is necessary to use integrated data from social media and classic tools such as the Internet, trade fairs, newsletters, CRM or events.

Up until now, advertising agencies have responded to customer requirements with their expertise in implementing existing ideas. The relaunch of the website, a more modern design, a classic campaign and a few SEO optimizations fulfilled the briefing without highlighting essential future perspectives.


Being part of the change

Modern advertising agencies are actually no longer any. They need to expand their consulting skills and lead customers more effectively. Their task will be to find answers that promote change, future opportunities and growth. For doing so, they have to provide teams that develop classic and digital solutions. In the agencies of the future, interdisciplinary thinking will prevail and lead to sustainable consulting. The task is to find strategies for the digital age, to link media and marketing disciplines and to implement new business fields/models.

“In this sense, only those advertising agencies are superfluous that want to guard and preserve their old business areas.”

If they face the challenges of the future and offer their customers real future perspectives, they have a realistic chance to survive in a transformed form. Then they grow with their customers, think disruptively and remain constructive.