Cincinnati is host to NewCo’s latest conference today. NewCo describes themselves as “a new kind of event experience: a mashup of an open studio tour and a business conference, with the vibe of a music festival.” As an attendee, you have access to sessions given by local innovative companies and organizations. You get to pick which sessions you would like to see and which company/organization you’d like to visit in their native environment.
Here at Curiosity Advertising, we were thrilled to have been selected as a host company for this year’s event. It has been a chance for us to show our innovative thinking and for people to see our great new space in the heart of downtown. In keeping with the innovation theme of NewCo, we thought we should tackle a key topic that we think about every day: what is the future for agencies like ours?
Here’s the short description of our session that we held this morning (which sold out with more than 60 reservations!)
More and more advertising is feeling ancient and ineffective or just simply blocked. New technologies promise to change all of that and reach people the right way at the right time or they’ll just annoy people even more. Now the only question is how we do that. Stop by to find out what we’re curious about to help our clients step into the future of marketing and advertising (and see our amazing new space where that inspires us every day).
For those of you who were unable to attend NewCo (or get into our session), we thought we share some of the details of what went on here.
When it came to picking a title for this session, it was pretty simple. We wanted to convey that the future of “advertising” is not Don Draper and Mad Men, but will likely look a lot more like the innovative companies in Silicon Valley (and in up-and-coming tech cities like our own Cincinnati). Some current agencies will thrive, while many others will not be able to adapt quickly enough and will fade away. Not wanting to be in the latter category and always focusing on delivering more of what our clients need (even before they can express the need), we constantly think about this here at the agency. Our presentation gave our attendees a little taste of where we see the future for companies like ours and what the best of the best will look like in the future.
We believe that the leading agencies will play four main roles:
- Marketing Leader
- Business Consultant
- Technology Leader
- Data Wrangler
Your average “full service” agency is generally only skilled in the first area, as a Marketing Leader. “Digital” agencies tend to have a greater competency in the Technology Leader role. Let’s go look at each role in more detail—we think you’ll see why all four roles are critical:
- Marketing Leader
This is probably the most natural role for most agencies. This role includes the “traditional” creative work, like developing concepts and creating ads. You can also lump media buying and planning in this category. It’s all about creating a message and delivering it broadly. For the most part, it’s in this role that agencies win awards or put forward creative that baffles the market (and not in a good way). The best of the best in this role focus on truly understanding the customer and delivering the right message at the right time, versus being “creative” for the sake of being creative.
- Business Consultant
Contrary to the Marketing Leader role, the Business Consultant is the least natural role for most agencies. When we talk about being a good business consultant to our clients, we mean taking a stake in the success of the client’s company, literally or figuratively. When you do this right, you are naturally predisposed to focus on key company goals, versus simply taking orders and delivering assets. Along with this comes the task of helping the client to figure out new products, alternative options to expand the market, and additional customer segments to target. If you’re doing your job as an agency, with the exception of the client themselves, you should be in the best position to come up with these innovations. You know the business. You know the market. You know what’s worked and what hasn’t.But many agencies don’t see this as their job. They aren’t getting paid to develop new product lines (yet), so the focus is on delivery. However, any decent agency can deliver assets on-time and with good quality. Not many can take a seat at the highest strategic level with the client and offer real value. Ultimately, this is what clients really want. It’s their consistent answer when asked, “what could your agency be doing better?” They want new ideas and innovative thinking. You’re not going to get there with just production of assets.
- Technology Leader
This role goes beyond just knowing how to do some digital work. It’s not about simply building websites, or even about creating complex, custom applications. We don’t even like to use the term “digital”—instead, we should focus on managing and delivering marketing technology.There are literally thousands of marketing technology platforms and tools out there, but your average client is wearing far too many other hats to be able to learn about all of them. That’s the agency’s job, or at least it should be. The best agencies will play the role of marketing technology consultant and will comfortably lead conversations with client CIOs and CTOs. This means being able to understand how the technology works, what it does, and how it can be used to reach the company’s goals. It means being able to confidently piece together a technology stack that efficiently improves the client’s marketing efforts.Marketing technology puts a focus on things like automation, resource and activity scaling, message personalization and delivery, and integrated analytics. These are much different areas of focus compared to the “digital” work most are ready to deliver today.
- Data Wrangler
There are a lot of reasons that the Data Wrangler is a critical role, but the heart of it is this: they underpin all the others. There are three main parts of this role that are equally important.The first is data gathering and aggregation. Every company has data that could be used to make better decisions, and chances are, that data is spread out in different places and different formats and in varying degrees of usability. A giant step forward for many companies would be to get this data all in one place, and to allow clients to visualize it all in a meaningful way.The second part involves the actual synthesis and analysis of the data. This can be simple trend observations through highly complex models that predict behavior. Agencies of the future will be able to confidently handle this sort of work as a matter of course.The final and critical part is application and measurement. After the analysis, you need to understand what the findings mean and how to apply them to the business for the biggest return. This is where many companies struggle and where there is a lot of demand, and also white space, for agencies to step in.
There are quite a few more features of the future successful agency, but we see the roles outlined here as absolutely critical to every agency that wants to be around in 10 years. For many, this adaptation will be too great, but for others, there is a huge opportunity to play an even bigger role in the success of our clients, which helps to form more stable relationships and predictable revenues for agencies.
Check out our NewCo session on Facebook Live.
—Jonathan Richman, Vice President, Director of Marketing Technology