Do advertising agencies have a future?

The most creative agencies are trembling at the prospect of being taken over by consulting networks. Calls that traditional communications agencies will soon be superfluous are growing louder. What’s wrong with it?

We live in the age of change. Only those who make change work for themselves and their customers can survive the digital transformation. The trend can no longer be overlooked: digital consultancies are threatening classic advertising agencies and their networks.

Three points of attack on traditional agencies

For starters, digital consultants are taking over creative and specialty agencies at an increasing pace. In Germany, these included Aperto, Ecxio, Sinner-Schrader, Mackevision, Cundus and Everett, and more than 70 worldwide. Accenture alone invested more than a billion dollars in agency acquisitions.

“Digital consultants are taking over creative and specialty agencies at an increasing pace.”

Companies are making their entire structure customer-centric, putting the customer experience front and center. New digital products and services are key components of this. “This includes structured data, building technology know-how, creative expertise at customer touchpoints and the ability to operate programmatic platforms at scale,” explains Rainer Balensiefer, head of Accenture Interactive Germany.

The third point is the poaching of highly qualified personnel for traditional and specialized agencies. In this way, consulting companies provide themselves with the strategic know-how that gives them a consulting edge over traditional and media agencies.

Digitization requires change

The decisive factor for this development is primarily digitization. Advertisers need to transform their entire organization to reach their customers on all channels, globally in a fragmented digital world. The basis 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 of how creation should behave in production and distribution logistics is the challenge of the day. Communication now encompasses the entire experience chain, from consulting to technology and creation to implementation. Product and service development as well as distribution are thus important components of sustainable consulting.

“Communication now encompasses the entire experience chain, from consulting to technology and creation to implementation.”

Therefore, the creative ideas of the past alone are not enough to be able to fulfill the wishes of the customers. The creation should be scalable with technology support at the touchpoints with high conversion. To achieve this, different disciplines must be integrated and intertwine. Digital consultants are thus increasingly taking over the tasks of creative and digital agencies, media service providers, and production companies when agility and innovative spirit are lacking there.

Are advertising agencies already superfluous?

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

Until now, advertising agencies answered customer demands 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 brief without showing vital future prospects.

Be part of the change

Contemporary advertising agencies are actually no more. They need to develop their consulting skills and guide customers more strongly. Your task will be to find answers that promote change, future opportunities and growth. To do this, they need to provide teams that develop classic and digital solutions. In the agencies of the future, interdisciplinary thinking will then prevail and lead to sustainable consulting. Strategies for the digital age need to be found, media and marketing disciplines need to be linked, and new business areas/models need to be implemented.

“From that point of view, the only ones who are redundant are the advertising agencies that want to guard and preserve their old lines of business.”

If they face up to the tasks of the future and offer their customers real prospects for the future, they have a realistic chance of surviving in transformed form. Then they grow with their customers, think disruptively and remain constructive.

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