Operating at the intersection of tech, data, creativity and content is the common claim of many new agency brand mergers and groups.
This has become a busy intersection. Stretching the analogy, this akin to a car manufacturer headlining the fact that they operate at the intersection of piston, diesel, rubber and road. Factually correct but more a list of capabilities than a vision.
But success will demand vision beyond operational simplification.
Why? Because the next wave of transformation is just around the corner and today a major highway is missing from this intersection, namely media.
The very smart analyst Brian Wieser of Pivotal argued only last week that media has been the biggest engine of both growth and margin in the holding companies.
‘Media agency divisions of agency holding companies have arguably served as the most important business units within holding companies given their historical high single digit (or even low double-digit) organic growth and higher-than-average profitability’
This could easily put the brakes on messing with the model.
Most business transformation puts the customer at the centre to better serve and delight, using technology to automate and scale. If this is to be seamless media thinking and creative content/experience thinking has to be unified. As every performance marketeer knows, combining media data, with CRM and web behavioural data is the way to create effective content.
But the media content opportunity has only just begun. The next wave of transformation is being ushered in by the full digitisation of TV, into an addressable data-driven platform business. In this environment creativity and media, will have to work as one, not tactically in the creation of more crap industrialised ‘performance content’ that you see today but strategically to make better ads and experiences.
Advertisers are relearning that TV/film (sometimes called video by the new establishment attempting to redefine the territory on their terms) is the most effective brand building and response fuelling medium and it does both, at scale.
In a platform environment, TV’s commercial model will change as TV owners will drive towards reducing advertising dependence and seek to monetise their audience in a new customer-focused way, just as Sky did many years ago and publishers are doing today. This will control the volume and hence improve the quality of TV advertising content. AKA better ads.
Of course, everybody understands this inevitable re-joining hence many start up’s, the most visible being S4 Capital, new entrants such as consultants, and platform businesses are pushing in this direction
This will complete the redefinition of media scale from buying leverage to cross-platform audience understanding and scaling intelligence. Indeed, we might finally see the full demise of media planning and account planning and phoenix-like arrival of the single and more appropriate expertise of audience planning.
It may be one or three years away but the full, high capability, platform switch in TV is close and it will redefine the ecosystem’s commercial and advertising dynamics. This is the enormous opportunity for the holding companies to build off their current media hegemony.
But one thing is certain, relying on incumbency, dated commercial models and historic barriers to entry is a sure-fire recipe for failure.
Iain Jacob was the UK chief executive of Publicis Media