The future structure of agencies

Tim Hipperson
G2 Joshua

Digital media consumption is at a tipping point, forcing advertising agencies to adopt a new Third Wave model. Those that don't adapt now will not survive.

A couple of years ago, there was much talk of the need for change among agencies. More than just the traditional lip service paid through restructure, but a fundamental shift in how the advertising industry does business. It was impossible to pick up a trade magazine without an article mentioning the future structure of agencies. The problem being that the conversations and column inches were, in the main, far too theoretical and removed from the day-to-day, which, as we all know, makes them all too easy to ignore. So has the much talked-about and necessary change been achieved?

In part, yes, but there is still a way to go. In 'Agency models: Time for action' (Admap, December 2010), I mooted the question: 'Is it now a matter of do or die?' If it wasn't then, it most certainly is now. An additional 12 months of experience and observation has shown that a clear divide among agencies that do and agencies that don't is emerging. The 'Third Wave' has already begun, and one thing is certain; we'll see the shakeout that has been threatening the very fabric of the industry for the last three years begin to take its toll. We are now in the age of the digital cognoscenti:

  • There are currently 52,731,200 internet users in the UK (84% penetration).
  • Smartphones account for over half of the UK mobile market.
  • By 2013, the mobile penetration rate in the UK is predicted to exceed 200%.
  • Digital switchover will be complete by the end of 2012.
  • One in 40 people have a tablet device, and 12% of UK consumers own an e-reader.
  • 800,000 households will own a 3D TV set by the end of 2012.
  • At the end of 2011, there were 30,470,400 registered Facebook users – a 50% penetration rate.