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Is the agency model outdated?

Posted 28 days ago by Harry Silvester
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The agency market has been going through quite the shake-up during 2019. With what seems like a new stream of redundancies coming each month from agencies big and small, it is apparent issues are present with the current agency model. But, is it a case that less business is being put out to tender or a sign agencies are adapting for a future market?


“Economic uncertainty” (the new code-word for Brexit) was to blame for the recent redundancies at Nottingham based agency Hallam, where tighter internal budgets and decreased client spend sparked the need to restructure to ensure cost-efficiency with the same level of output.


This comes as little surprise, where in an industry plagued by low barriers to entry and high competition, it is clear agencies must adapt to become more strategic and market focussed in order to effectively compete during uncertain economic periods. A secondary factor which is driving Hallam’s restructure to provide more strategic consultancy services.


                         hand shaking over company growth


Though economic uncertainty can partially account for firms wanting to cut back agency budgets, a new trend of control is emerging which means B2B and B2C firms are taking the reins back from agencies and developing their own in-house creative, marketing and communications teams.


Made.com has seen continued success in this area, where the furniture firm has historically shunned working with big ad agencies due to their “old school thinking”, in favour for working collaboratively with creative talent across the industry at an in-house level.


Just as it can be argued that PR is no longer just about press releases, advertising and marketing are no longer solely about traditional communications. The digital scene has landed and it is changing the way firms now communicate.


If you have a new product line launching, the marketing campaign will require integrated communications (ranging from PR events to SEO for the new landing page). What then happens when your marketing agency doesn’t do events and your PR agency are not SEO specialists? Surely you are looking for one firm to do it all?


Ogilvy recognised this trend a year ago, when they made the strategic decision to combine Ogilvy One and Ogilvy PR under one roof to drive campaign integration. However, whilst some of the world's leading creative agencies have adapted to their markets needs, the smaller more specialist ones may be catching on far less quickly and are subsequently missing out on key business opportunities.


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Is the agency model outdated? To put it bluntly, in its traditional specialist focus - yes.


Now is the time for agencies to become more integrated, in order to compete within a modern digital landscape which is becoming increasingly driven by data efficiencies. Though external factors play a large role in what clients expect from communications, it will be those organisations who fail to adapt to provide a more strategically integrated offering, which will experience the harder levels of decline.


Fortunately we are seeing a rise in the number of agencies who are restructuring and adapting to industry developments, meaning the future certainly looks bright for those agencies who are willing and able to become more collaboratively led, which in turn is creating some exciting career opportunities for those forward thinking marketers and creatives!