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What Does the Agency of the Future Look Like?


MAA/Geometry UK research shows UK agencies are optimistic and looking at the big picture

What Does the Agency of the Future Look Like?

The Marketing Agencies Association has announced results of an extensive four-month study to identify the critical factors agencies need to succeed in the future, to help them stay competitive and relevant. 

The study – spearheaded by Geometry Global UK’s chief executive officer Sarah Todd in her role as MAA’s co-chair for Agency of the Future – revealed industry-wide optimism that agencies will maintain their position as creative leaders along with their role as critical partners to time-poor, resource-constrained clients in the fast-changing landscape. John Norton, Head of Retail Trading, The Royal British Legion remarked that the report is clear on the move towards stronger strategic client/agency partnership – he believes that agency and client relationships need to be grounded in friendship for success.

Sarah Todd commented, “What really stood out is how agencies are now much more externally focused when planning for the future. They are really looking at the bigger picture as to how they will stay relevant to their clients. It’s great to see the conversation has finally moved on beyond millennials, Brexit and digital!”

Qualitative research saw twenty industry leaders and influencers interviewed to establish questionnaire factors of success. Full research was then completed by 100 senior leaders across agencies and intermediaries, from network and independent; small to large – with data analysis and insights interpreted by the Geometry team. The output was broadly consistent and positive across all agency types and sizes.

Commenting on the report, Richard Robinson, Managing Partner of international marketing consultancy Oystercatchers said that it was powerful to see agencies coming together, stepping out as one, helping to define the future. “Clients need that level of clarity more than ever in this changing, fast—paced environment”.

Topline take-out

Agencies are more committed than ever to putting clients at the heart of how they go to market – they recognise the need to be strategic-delivery focused with increased flexibility to approach and more top to top partnership. Ninety-eight percent of respondents strongly agreed on the necessity to show value beyond the marketing department, and, that one size no longer fits all. 

Interestingly, the swelling number of management consultancies moving into ‘creative’ space was not considered a challenge -  confirming agency confidence in their client offering. Two thirds stated they are happy for agency reward to be linked to agreed success metrics and 80 percent claimed to measure campaign effectiveness in relation to strategic goals.

The report establishes six key pillars for success

Business problem solvers for clients

• Much greater strategic account leadership 

• Always think end to end customer journey

• Strong balance of art and science

• Confidence to challenge the brief and bring new perspective 

Flexible agency models

• Client challenge at the heart of the Agency staffing solution

• Multifaceted, multi-level team to scale skills as needed

• Diversity of team to represent Client target audience 

• Freelance talent as swift providers of relevant knowledge

Musketeer mentality – In it together

• Focus on enabling client success and business results

• Help foresee new commercial and communication dynamics – one step ahead 

• In it to win it together - internal stakeholder management & external recognition (e.g. Awards)

Distinctive agency culture to attract best talent

• Distinctive purpose inspired identity

• Flexible working practices

• Transparent career progression 

• Diversified talent

• Allow more time for training to keep up with pace of change 

One step ahead

• Genuine proactive innovation and ideas based on interpretation of trends 

• Newsroom level of speed to leverage opportunities

• Permanently on top of the consumer and competitive landscape

Accountable for measurement and effective results

• Agencies need strong confidence in data, building profiles and data inspired insight

• Focus on success metrics and offer measurement / dashboards 

• Training priority as most Agencies not yet confident 

Matt Sullivan, MAA’s head of membership commented: “This study was a very important one for the MAA to undertake. One of our key offerings to member agencies is to provide the tools that will help them grow. By embarking on this study to find out exactly what our industry thinks the Agency of the Future will be; is vital in us helping our members to prepare and plan for their futures”.

Jaime Matthews, CEO, The World of Initials, concluded that the report showed a genuine sense of optimism among agencies for the future.  

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VMLY&R COMMERCE UK, Wed, 29 Mar 2017 13:27:52 GMT