Archive | agency

Creative vs media agencies

Pop Quiz. So you think you know your agencies? But do you know (or can you remember) where they came from?

I just found this great table in Hamish Pringle and Jim Marshall’s book Spending Advertising Money in the Digital Age which shows who was created when the main agencies split off their media departments in the 90s. I know for one I did creative agency to media dependent to media agency without even changing desks.



Good Advice

The thing about really good advice is that you never really know how good it was until a while after. If you knew it was good advice at the time you probably knew the answer but were fudging the decision. It’s when you are in the moment, on a track hurtling in some direction when you just think you need someone to reinforce your position.

My old boss gave me a couple of great ones when I left the comfort of the payroll 6 years ago.

1. To be really great you have to make tough decisions when things are going really well

2. Make sure you pay yourself properly

Both fairly intergalactic in their own right. The first we could talk about for along time and something I really believe in, but its the second that I often come back to. For any new business its key that you get to a position where you start to pay everyone their market value. If you don’t its fairly easy to run a business getting a £100k plus people to work for £15k, it just doesn’t last very long. I fell into the trap with a business a while back – thinking I was “reinvesting”, but the reality was that I was becoming more and more detached from the value of the business and the products we offered. The “reinvestment” plan made it all a little make believe vs feeling every penny you spend which is what a small business should be feeling.

Where I see this happening more and more is not so much in small businesses, but big organisations who are looking to change, or innovate with their products.

The advertising industry historically grew by around 3%. Essentially it didn’t. This made most agencies  try and differentiate from the competition – you had to, it was about stealing. Then along came digital. the growth charts were phenomenal, it was the saviour. New products and services were launched things grew like mad, but the independents (media or creative) grew faster and innovated quicker. Why? They paid themselves properly. They charged clients properly, they paid their people properly, they paid their dedicated management properly and they had a crystal cler idea of their product and how to manage it and importantly grow it.

The “traditional” agencies, were trying to protect legacy revenue – TV media or production, the army of planners who sat in mild panic hoping they wouldn’t get asked a digital question by the client. Money was taken from digital to invariably prop up the old model. Why? because clients didn’t feel they needed to pay for this but agencies felt as though they should – so they took the money, thinking the strategic high ground would be safer than the commoditised trading or production. Clients want the job done, not save money on the money they give you. Its lack of belief in we do that makes it start to be about the money.

It all comes back to being paid properly. Having the tough conversation, being clear on what you are worth which makes you focus where you allocate you resource and why.


Will digital agencies continue to exist?

Will digital agencies continue to exist

What are they and what is their value proposition? Super clued up on technology? Spot a trend a mile off? Do the things your current agencies can’t do in terms of building and delivering or as Mark Cridge recently wrote in his piece Are digital agencies the new dinosaurs? more open and forward thinking in how technology remains relevant to people.

We forget that they evolved in a world without natural predators, which is why they grew so quickly and so were able to be broad. As the ad, comms, PR, media, CRM, BTL agencies start to really tool up and get what is going on, there isn’t just one predator now but many and they know their discipline as well as which platform it sits on.

The final threat to digital agencies is that more and more of them are finding that the continual change in technology means that having specific disciplines on their books isn’t commercially viable and so start to out source production and build. Which grows the production market.

So you are now left with the idea and approach. If we had a room of the industry’s finest and someone said “probably the most important bit” everyone would nod rather wisely, but ask them who gets paid for their ideas, without any kind of execution underwriting their fees and it would be small.

Unfortunately businesses aren’t great for paying for ideas and the getting someone else to execute and as  “non digital agencies” are very good at the idea and able to outsource the execution quite openly, it will continue to squeeze the digital agencies.

I continue to believe “digital” is too broad to be given to one supplier and as such I think many of the digital agencies will disappear. Some will die, some will be picked up and turned into departments, but I’d like think there are some who would drop their digital flags be confident of their skills they have picked up and turn and charge the big guys again.