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Media agency role must change

News, 11 June 2015

NEW YORK: The recent spate of media reviews called by large companies, from Coca-Cola to Mondelez to Visa, is indicative of the failure of media agencies to address clients' real concerns a leading industry figure has argued.

Writing in Advertising Age, Tom Goodwin, svp/strategy and innovation at Havas Media, New York, said businesses were confronted with "the most profound, rapid changes they've ever known, but face a sea of agencies ignoring their needs and holding onto the past".

Observing a vast disconnect between the issues to be addressed and the solutions on offer, he stated that the role of media agencies had to change, to become "more ambitious".

He suggested that they "become stewards through the uncertainty" and help clients to solve their business problems rather than simply buying media for them.

He highlighted four areas that illustrated his view, starting with the speed of change, which, he said, required agencies to structure themselves differently and develop an entrepreneurial culture in order to "keep their finger on the pulse, be agile and ready to change".

Related to that is the need for agencies to "move their focal point further into the future" with staff who can understand wearables, advise on virtual reality and appreciate the opportunities of addressable TV.

The potential of mobile has yet to be fully realised and agencies could work harder, he suggested, to "resolve the tension" between where media money was spent and where consumer time was spent.

Similarly, agencies ought to spend less time talking about Big Data and more time in serious analysis and insight creation. They "need to clean data better, learn how to work across data systems, structure processes to maximize learnings and, above all else, define metrics that matter".

The ongoing changes wrought by digital media have "caused structural issues in the entire world of advertising," Goodwin said, to which agencies have yet to fully respond, as they continued to be "arranged around channels in a world where the internet makes them irrelevant."

Warc is currently accepting entries for the Warc Prize for Connection Strategy, a new global competition to find the best examples of channel thinking that delivers brand advantage and which looks at the strategy, analytics and measurement that power modern media investment.

Data sourced from Advertising Age; additional content by Warc staff