What Does It Mean To Be An Agency Today?
ADWEEK|September 17, 2018

Being in advertising tends to be perilous.

Max Lenderman

No one in our industry can ignore the seismic business and cultural shifts that are reshaping our definitions and expectations of the advertising world. One only needs to read Ken Auletta’s Frenemies book—or the annual earnings reports of the ad holding companies—to know that being an advertising agency in today’s world is fraught with peril and derogation. In fact, to many of our clients the idea of an ad agency is either anachronistic or irrelevant.

In 2017, for the first time ever, four consultancies cracked the top 10 of the world’s largest agencies in the world. Consultancies are seemingly taking over ad agencies’ purview because CMOs are now hyper-focused on business growth and not just brand goals. Consultant work is less prone to being scrutinized by procurement departments that make it a truism to bang ad agencies upon fees and hourly rates.

Ad agencies are also being supplanted by in-house studios, content hubs and digital/social departments. Choosing to act more nimbly, effectively, cheaply and with greater insider knowledge of the business strategy, forward-thinking marketers and brands would rather pay their own people than agency folks. Often, going in-house is more lucrative and meaningful for top creative and digital talent, leading to a palpable brain drain at large ad agencies. According to a Forrester study, marketers with in-house agencies increased to 64 percent from 42 percent just a decade ago.

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