Big global advertising agencies have long had a business model resembling that of a factory, with creative work being the end product. There was a show of strength from the creative team, and they stressed the importance of being resourceful. Ads that went completely off the deep end in terms of style and tone were usually a sign that the agency was losing the account and trying to save face by creating ads that won awards but didn’t necessarily do much to move product.
The advertising industry has benefited from the growth of what are known as “ancillary services,” which include things like media buying, strategic planning, and, most notably, qualitative and quantitative research.
In the past, measuring return on investment (ROI) and to win from US was a constant challenge for both clients and agencies, but the methods at their disposal were rudimentary at best. Market researchers relied on lifestyle indicators and socioeconomic status when selecting their target market.
As both marketing agencies and their clients operate in a dynamic digital environment, both the way they operate and the work they do have undergone significant transformations in recent years.
In order to implement integrated marketing strategies that fully take advantage of the omnichannel environment in which we now find ourselves, traditional agency models have had to change.
Before, full-service agencies competed with below-the-line outfits that specialised in sales or direct marketing; now, these initiatives need to be embedded to maintain a unified message and approach, so agencies need to guarantee they have a broad spectrum of expertise on hand to enhance the efficacy of holistic strategies, as well as that these are precisely attributed and examined at each stage.
As the brand positioning has evolved from a single channel to a multichannel to an omnichannel approach, the way in which it is delivered has also had to be rethought in order to make the customer the focal point of the strategy and to build the channels in a way that best accommodates the customer’s unique and ever-evolving preferences and needs.
This necessitates a revision to the agency’s prioritisation of “traditional teams” as its primary organisational unit. Traditionally, account managers have served as the “face” of the agency, communicating directly with clients while also fostering relationships, while the agency’s creative staff, including writers and art directors, worked behind the scenes. They maintained a low profile and were seldom seen by the customer.
Nowadays, it’s common practice for clients from smaller businesses to collaborate directly with the creative team on the development of the message, which will be pushed heavily from the centre. Coordination of the various disciplines needed to realise the campaign’s goals has become a central part of the account manager’s job.
Experts in specific fields may not work for the agency in question, but rather as independent consultants for a variety of organisations and private clients. Even before the pandemic era, the rise of the professional gig economy was well established, as the omnichannel world sets up an array of micro-niches that a marketing consultant can influence and become the go-to person.
For example, for wedding planning on TikTok influencer initiatives or else share-of-voice optimizer techniques for coffee bean beverages in the South East Asian market. If you’re a marketing jack-of-all-trades, you might find yourself in a client-facing role where you’ll need to synthesise these niche providers and know who to call on for what job.
Agencies today often act as a “technology broker,” rather than just a provider of services. It’s unusual to find a branding or advertising agency that isn’t heavily invested in some sort of technology stack, typically in order to offer their clients discounts and easy onboarding.
As a result, advertising firms can give their customers greater access to and training in cutting-edge marketing technologies.
An increasing number of firms now offer their customers not only creative materials and fresh ideas, but also cutting-edge functionalities made possible by technological advancements. The role of procurement will be to determine which highly specialised service providers are the most suitable for their respective organisations.
Freelancers are playing a bigger part in the workforce as well. In 2018, the United States was home to an estimated 56.7 million freelancers, an increase of 3.7 million from 2014. Freelancers Union research suggests that by 2027, independent contractors will make up the vast majority of the American workforce.
Many procurement departments may soon be responsible for supervising a large contingent of freelancers in addition to their current responsibilities of working with technology agencies and utilising in-house teams. Both short-term jobs and ongoing retainers are possible scenarios. Procurement experts will need novel approaches and methods for locating, vetting, and keeping tabs on contractors.
The “full-service” agency model is unsustainable, which presents opportunities and challenges for businesses in need of marketing support. First of all, they have more options than ever before and can have faith that the agencies they work with are highly specialised.
However, increased complexity is an additional downside of specialisation in procurement. Having to keep track of a larger number of suppliers can make it more challenging to optimise both expenditures and returns.
Business owners will need a single truthful source to effectively manage their marketing suppliers and expenditures. Additionally, they will need to minimise waste by investing in in-house talent whenever possible and contracting with smaller, more specialised teams to fill in for large agency packages when these are no longer required.