of 2017

What hope for specialist marketers in 2017 and beyond?

June 22nd 2017 / by Laura Terry

It seems that almost everybody in the advertising and marketing industry laments the changing landscape: reduced loyalty, increased client demands to pitch, pressure to reduce costs and increase transparency, procurement-led negotiations and ever-changing preferences for channel segments that require new skills, new technologies and continually evolving workforce specialisation.

However, it is exactly these changes that create the necessary climate for start-up specialists to emerge, challenge their competitors, and then ultimately profit from mergers and acquisitions with big global organisations seeking to keep up with industry trends.

So what are the opportunities and threats for the specialist agency of 2017?

The overall trend for big global advertising brands to offer integrated marketing services, as well as a new wave of competition from professional service firms building in-house creative capabilities through acquisition, means that agencies have to be willing to define and focus on their own strengths and collaborate with specialists outside of the organisation to deliver the right service, at high quality, to increasingly savvy clients.

Globally, WPP, and more relevantly the recently established WPP AUNZ Group, are strategically committed to ‘horizontality’ – or the collaboration of group companies for the ultimate good of the client. But who wins the revenue and relationship battles in these coopetition models? And how do we balance the need to retain specialised skills and creative IP as our service differentiators whilst also contributing to greater group success, often in RFP environments?

The answer has to be transparency. Lead agencies openly adopt the role of facilitator rather than one-stop-shop, and everybody wins.

At PLAY, we believe that being an action company is just as important as being an ideas company – you need to be able to implement an idea to a quality standard, not just sell a dream. Without exception, this requires transparent and direct relationships between the skilled specialist and the end client right from concept stage.

In an article from January this year, Advertising Age (USA) warned that the industry has never been so divided, and predicted transparency and trust to be the key words for the year. It stands to reason that pitching the right idea, delivering on what has been sold, and robustly measuring impact will go a long way to ensuring every agency can truly be considered specialist.