Planning @50: What is its future?

This article is part of a series of articles marking the 50th birthday of planning. Read more.

It's 50 years since the birth of planning. Wow! I haven't been around quite that long but am nearing the 20-year mark and, during that time, have crossed the divide of ad agency planner, media agency strategist and digital/content planner. From my perspective, the fundamentals of planning haven't changed: good planning still brings a clear understanding of consumer, brand, business, category, culture and channel to the table and distils it in a way that makes it relevant to an agreed set of objectives.

If planning hasn't changed, the context in which we plan surely has. There are more channels and there is more data, and both have grown exponentially since the advent of the World Wide Web and our increasing reliance on it. But what I've noticed more recently is a different kind of change. A change that springs from within our industry, a philosophical change, a structural change, that is changing one of the most important (yet often forgotten) dynamics of the agency world, namely the relationship between agencies and clients. It's a subtle change that I think is passing most agencies by, but it is often the subtle that makes the most difference.