Phil explores three reasons why media agencies are changing their structure
Statistics from Enders Analysis suggest that 2016 will be the year when 50% of media consumption will become digital and 50% of digital usage will be via smart phones. This presents the media industry with a number of challenges; how to produce more tailor-made communications? How can they effectively measure their output? How to better service their clients?
The diversification of the media landscape and the onslaught of communication stimuli means that it is increasingly difficult to ensure that all channels and specialists are working in tandem. As such, media agencies are being forced to refine their structures to ensure that one brand experience/message translates to consumers across all channels.
Collaboration is key
There has long been a standing friction between creative, media and digital agencies, however with collaboration higher on the agenda than ever before they are having to find ways to communicate better and work together. As a result, there has been a move towards agencies implementing open door policies when it comes to meetings in an attempt to break down the 'not invented here' attitude and build on the ideas of others.
Crucially, agencies must learn a new level of collaboration with their clients as trust and collaboration adds collective brainpower. A number of London’s leading agencies have also made the move into new office spaces which have been specifically designed with hot-desking and flexible working in mind to encourage inter-agency relationship building amongst teams; MEC and Maxus are two such examples.
There are a number of schools of thought when it comes to agencies tackling the power struggle between creative and media agencies; some agencies, such as Razorfish which can offer digital and creative services have done a full 360 and developed in-house media buying teams in a bid to offer a fully integrated service to clients under one roof. For example, M/Six are a joint venture between one of the UK’s creative agencies, Chi & Partners and number one media networks in the form of Group M. This allows them to work in collaboration on a number of client briefs. Alternatively, media agencies are having to find more innovative ways to build collaboration with experts in creative, digital technology and data-driven disciplines.
Publicis Groupe has recently announced structural changes which will lead to the consolidation of their six agency brands (Starcom, Mediavest, Spark, Zenith, Optimedia and Blue 449) into four global brands - Starcom; Zenith; Mediavest / Spark and Optimedia/Blue449. Publicis will no longer use the names Starcom Mediavest Group or ZenithOptimedia Group moving forward in favour of a flatter organisational structure.
This restructure brings with it a number of benefits. It aims to better focus the group on the client’s needs. There is a real drive to encourage more modern approaches to gain efficiency, promote greater collaboration and effectiveness and drive new levels of client value.
The Publicis Groupe is the second largest buying network in the world and yet has in the main kept its media buying largely within the different agency holding groups, such as Starcom Mediavest and ZenithOptimedia. The move towards a leaner and simpler structure is set to make more use of their immense scale and bring more value to their clients and further accelerate their growth.
Publicis will at times concentrate its media buying centrally, similar to how other holding companies such as WPP currently work, in an effort to give it more leverage in the marketplace with media vendors. However, Publicis maintains that its individual agency brands will continue to play an important role, and in some cases will complete media buying deals at the individual agency level.
In an ever-competitive environment whereby clients are looking for better value and agencies are trying to improve their profitability, reduce margins and produce better quality work. A move towards leaner, more agile structures can surely only be beneficial.
Even more of a focus on diversity
As well as looking at the traditional divides of gender, ethnicity and age, agencies are striving to diversify further by employing staff from different backgrounds, widening the cultural spectrum within their organisations.
Dentsu Aegis’ fortysix is a prime example of a new agency model which acknowledges the need to hire people from a range of backgrounds. They are a digital agency that will be entirely staffed by young people from diverse backgrounds. It has been formed in partnership with the digital transformation business Freeformers and mentors a young person for every project it runs.
Dentsu Aegis’ Chief Executive Tracy De Groose states “winning in the digital economy is about speed, bravery and innovation born from diverse perspectives and new ways of working. The power of fortysix is that it has these attributes in its DNA – it represents a new agency model created for the good of our clients, talent, the industry and society at large.”
Essentially, the agency of the future will have to be malleable and adorn a number of different hats to ensure they remain a crucible of ideas and creativity. Whether they do this by enlisting the help of outside agencies or try and bring everything under one roof brings with it divided opinion. The one thing that is apparent however is that agencies are going to have to keep taking stock of cultural changes and adapt accordingly, or risk falling behind.
Phil Nunney | Media Planning & Buying Consultant
0203 301 9927 | firstname.lastname@example.org