Peter Cowie, co-founder and managing partner at Oystercatchers, wonders if we might be witnessing the rebirth of the full service agency model.
Last week saw Berlin host the annual European Adforum conference where agency chiefs from some of Europe’s leading companies – both global agency networks and independents large and small – share insights into Europe’s fast-paced creative business.
The line-up was impressive: Havas, Scholz & Friends, Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide, Grey Germany, The Foundry, The Hirschen Group, Blackwood Seven, Robert/Boisen & Like-Minded, MullenLowe, Publicis Pixelpark and more.
The Summit was a terrific gathering sharing break-through technology and innovation and included Time Inc introducing its new content production unit, IBM launching its new IX division and Blackwood Seven sharing its vision for the future of media.
Four clear trends emerged that I predict will impact clients and agencies in the coming year:
1- Management consultancies are on the march in Europe
Consultancies are skinning the cat and are starting at the head. Agencies are, for now, at the tail. The big consultancies are gunning for creative agency space – with laser focus on the gap between marketing and sales.
IBM IX, for instance, commits to think bigger than an agency and more creatively than a consultancy, with the power to integrate the whole system. With 30,000 people working in User Experience Design, they are on an acquisition trail for creative insight. In Germany alone they have bought three agencies: including Resource/Ammirati [digitally led creative] and Aperto [creative/tech/strategy].
2- Predictive analytics and AI is a reality
It’s not a question of when, but a question of how.
During my time, I’ve been invited inside many different kinds of companies, and, Blackwood Seven unequivocally, represents the future of media. A tech and consultancy company – it is bringing to market a software platform using advanced predictive analytics and artificial intelligence to predict and optimise results from paid media.
Advertisers can land cost efficiencies of 15- to 25% based on data, transparency and a large degree of automation. Blackwood Seven is paid against KPIs. Campaigns can be run from iPad or mobile.
Seems too good to be true? VW, Vodafone, Amazon have signed up. And where they go, others follow. This is truly the Uber of the media business.
“The discussion on agency models continues to rumble on. But there is no question: the customer is at the heart of all”
3- Customer at the core/changing the agency model
The discussion on agency models continues to rumble on. But there is no question: the customer is at the heart of all.
Havas’ Village structure brings simplicity to clients. Publicis’ new ‘Power of One’ structure firmly places customer at the centre with chief client officers judged by client satisfaction rather than revenue.
Meanwhile, Robert/Boisen & Likeminded, has been awarded the most-creative agency in Denmark, by 200 leading marketing directors – for the past five years. The reason for success: responding to client needs for emotionally angled PR and social driven content to maximise the tightest of budgets.
4- Media returns to the agency
MullenLoweGroup’s Mediahub hints towards a move to a full service model, following VCCP’s acquisition of Adconnection at the end of last year. In the UK, MullenLowe’s 35-strong team is embedding media thinking into the creative process. Grey Media is yet another example of media/creative integration.
Is the future full service?
And lastly no European meeting would be complete without discussion on the hot topic of Brexit/ Bremain. Being amongst a vocal and eclectic group of Europeans for a week, it is was clear just how worried everyone is about the UK potentially leaving the EU and the implications for both clients and agencies as the consumer takes a decisive position to stay in or move out.
Communications, and the way they are created, may never be the same again.