The Agency of the Future is…Fully Automated?

In the last year or so we’ve tackled quite a few briefs to install (and we use the word purposely) an agency layer of automation, programmatic targeting, and performance marketing. The “D” words loom large – digital and data-driven marketing. (Often alongside these are the “C” words of course – cutting comms costs). The pendulum has truly swung towards a more systematic, number-driven, relentlessly on-mobile and on-screen world of communications and new digital agencies.

This has led us to see, or foresee, a number of changes to agencies, and marketing overall.

1. The rise and rise of the “Performance Marketing Agency”. They are big (often much bigger than “traditional” agencies with well-known names, and bigger than some of the recently risen “digital” agencies). The agencies look like dealing rooms, and perhaps they are more akin to this, than campaign-led agency set-ups. One agency principle said to us “the more geeks we get, the more clients we get”; testament to the quantified, touchpoint led, comms world that prevails.

2. Marketers need maths. There is a wholesale directional move to the numbers, logic and continual evolving presence in the market in marketing. A move-away from creative campaigns and brand subjectivity. This is generally a good thing as it presents Marketing as more of a science than an art, and standing up in front of the board to justify Marketing budgets becomes a whole lot easier. Many of the very senior marketers we work with realise this is the new way of the comms world, and although they may not be quite secure in it themselves, are building teams that more numerate and figure-happy professionals (and even some geeks..).

3.  There is a balance between story-telling, personalisation and performance automation. There has to be a balance between engaging the consumer through storytelling, through all channels, and pushing things in front of digital consumers because there are numbers that may seem to stack-up. Personalisation is as much about brand engagement, a multi-media influenced experience and relevance as getting the right offer in front of the consumer at the right time, this time. Re-targeting could have brand downsides with many consumers as much as it uplifts response with some.

So…whilst there is a clear re-shift in the balance of power towards performance, programmatic and messaging automation – our plea would be…”don’t forget the human” – there is a real person at the end of your Brand communications, and not only a mouse (touchscreen didn’t sound so good here…).

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