In conversation with the agency leaders, Social Samosa attempts to understand how they see the agency of the future, with the changing macro environment in the A&M industry.
The macro-environment in the Indian Advertising & Marketing industry is changing. Consulting firms are getting into fiercer competition with agency businesses and brands are creating in-house units. We understand from agency leaders how they see the change and how they see the Agency of the Future.
Decoding The Agency Of The Future
Binaifer Dulani, Founding Member and Creative at Talented shares her thoughts on how she sees the agency business is placed and the current state of agencies. She stated that it is not surprising that agencies are in a precarious position at the moment because clients truly need to drive innovation for their businesses and what agencies try to deliver is a scope of work that is predominantly skewed towards execution-based outputs.
She also stated that we need to chase unbiased solutions to business problems, even if those solutions are not within an agency’s core capability to execute. When the vision is not in their core capability, agencies should get experts on board, partner with other consulting firms, and look out for words to be able to deliver and execute the vision. She said that most agencies have not accepted the reality and that is one of the core reasons agencies are in a precarious position.
Agency leaders are squandering to retain talent. The freshest minds today don’t think of advertising as a particularly exciting business to be a part of. The misery we like to talk about humorously is not a badge of honour for generations today. I feel like all the agencies that believe in this traditional agency model and are a breeding ground for these practices are in a precarious position, she explains.
Rohan Mehta, CEO at Kinnect believes that the pressure from consulting firms is still a while to happen in India and doesn't see consulting firms coming after the agency business today though it’s being spoken about internationally. He says that the in-house setups from the creator and media standpoint are a necessity moving forward and the sure output of what advertising and marketing have to deliver has grown many folds from traditional to digital models. He looks at it as an aid to reach out to the sheer volume of the requirement.
From where agencies are from a model standpoint, he believes they are not in a state of flux and a lot of things have to be reimagined. Mehta shares that the team structures had to be reimagined due to COVID-19 and it was important to put cross-functional teams together that could create a solution to a business problem rather than just having a specialist mindset.
He firmly believed that agencies had to be open to newer revenue models which support the kind of work that agencies are doing, which is more spontaneous, more to the minute, and is not in conflict with what has happened.
He said that he often hears things like the production budgets are shrinking and advises that rather than conflicting with it, it would be better to accept the new reality and figure out what kind of solutions will work.
"I feel a lot of agencies today are very well poised to make these changes because we are faster and we adapt to the situations in a much more efficient manner. I think watching the trends and ensuring that you are adapting to them, not carrying any baggage of the past, and being open to constructing an agency of the future will make you survive in this state," he explains.
Amaresh Godbole, CEO, Digital Technology Business, Publicis Groupe India said that if we looked at the challenges from a holding company’s vantage point, traditionally, agencies have been partners with CMOs and for Publicis, besides the CMO, the CIO/ CTO is also a client today. He said that we don’t traditionally think of those people when referring to agencies.
"It is imperative to create a fluid culture where you know you have different divisions that probably cater to different stakeholders because the budgets in each one are equally large. My view on the agency of the future is that it is fluid like water," he said.
Godbole explained that there will be times when the agencies need to do everything. They will have to go and find the heart and at times, agencies will have to go and compete with system integrators and different consulting companies. So, at this point in time, the team needs to be aggregated differently. It depends on who the client at that moment is, and agencies are trying to straddle this entire gamut of CMO, CIO, head of channel, and the head of commerce, which is the challenge for them today.
Jyothirmayee JT, Founder, CEO at HiveMinds (a unit of Madison World) shared her thoughts on what agencies need to do to move up the value chain. She said that the stakeholder, the person dealt with, has been changing or has been widening and that forum is becoming bigger which is a fantastic thing for the agency. Though it causes too many aspects coming into the scope of work, she looks at this with the advent of every new format in advertising.
She says that the agency of the future is not happening today or in 2022 but in many years. Agencies had engineers in their teams who build websites in the 2000s. With the advent of much newer formats from 2000 to 2010; the whole gamut of things has just exploded, and lines are blurring on the other side as well.
"It’s no longer the marketing heads who are calling the shots. Previously we would talk to brand managers, today we talk to the e-com head plus brand manager. We also talk to the sales team sometimes. So, I think that is exactly what has led to the consulting companies coming in. Addressing the specific question of how we go up the value chain in such a scenario is to bring value," she added.