What the Media Agency of the Future Will Look Like

As Industry Evolves to Keep Up With Changing Technology, Leaders Share Their Visions of What's to Come

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The days when media agencies were relegated to planning and buying are long gone. Today, media shops need to be able to run digital and social-media campaigns, provide critical consumer analytics and even create content. And as the nature of media and the way we consume it continues to change, media agencies are forced to transform in order to remain relevant. But what will media agencies look like 10 years from now?

Ad Age asked a number of media agency leaders what they believe the agency model of the future will look like.

Mainardo De Nardis, global CEO of Omnicom Group's OMD:
Media agencies will need to adapt to the reality of consumer-controlled marketing. This means redefining our offer from "media" to "integrated marketing communications," and re-orienting the process around market insights, desired consumer behaviors and profitable business outcomes. The agency of the future will not only enable deeper conversations between consumers and brands, it will architect and monetize them. And clients' profits, together with their overall business performance, will be the only real measure of media-agency success.

Lisa Donohue, CEO of Publicis Groupe's Starcom USA:
It's always been about the talent. And in the future, that will be even more critical as agencies will be staffed with a new breed of listeners, students of the human condition, data interpreters and idea nurturers. The talent at these agencies will be capable of having smarter conversations and will be much better at listening. The agency of the future will provide a much wider range of value and will be a real-time source of business intelligence, useable data and creative ideas. Siloed and traditional job descriptions will continue to fall by the wayside as we shift to a paid, owned and earned world driven by content and underpinned by rich human understanding.

Mike Cooper, global CEO of Omnicom Group's PHD:
Technology will lead to a number of major blurs that will shape the media landscape and have a direct and immediate impact on how media agencies are structured in the future. Among them, TV and online will merge, and media agencies will therefore merge their TV-buying and online-buying departments to create AV buying departments.

Phil Cowdell, North American CEO of WPP's Mindshare:
The media agency of the future will need to be both more high-tech and more high-touch. It will require a greater use of empowering technology to fuel faster, smarter decision making. It will also need to focus more keenly on human collaboration across functions, disciplines and geographies to produce connected, quicker collaborative thinking.

Richard Beaven, worldwide CEO of Interpublic Group of Cos.' Initiative:
The media agency of the future will be restructured around four core principles: accountable for the impact we have on clients' businesses; digitally infused; dynamically structured to facilitate collaboration and customization; and always playing a central role in bringing brands closer to content creators.

Antony Young, CEO of Publicis Groupe's Optimedia:
There will be a more-diverse mix of media agencies, rather than a one-size-fits-all model. Agencies will need to be more strategic about where they invest and what their brand promise is. We are already seeing different specialist models emerge, and I can see this picking up. Other than having specialist resources to execute media, the common expertise every agency will need to offer is strategy and communications planning. Whether you are a digital, media, creative or social agency, clients are looking for not just how you execute, but how strategically each channel integrates and activates for the brand in a holistic fashion.

Stephen Allan, global CEO of WPP's MediaCom:
Media agencies will need to be able to distinguish between platforms and pipes and rapidly identify the opportunities to deliver services rather than just advertising. Agencies have to invest heavily in research, in opportunities beyond advertising and in our ability to integrate brands into must-watch, must-talk-about content. The future is going to be challenging, but it's also going to be exciting. And isn't that why we all got into media?

Steve Farella, CEO of TargetCast:
The media agency of the future will look like everything. The successful agency will be a leader in all of the things a marketer needs. Over time, media agencies have taken on so much more than just planning and buying. No doubt, in the future media agencies will evolve to become full-service marketing agencies and will satisfy client needs from marketing to media to advertising.

Bill Tucker, CEO of Publicis Groupe's MediaVest:
The media agency of the future will understand the power of igniting communities by harnessing people's collective purpose and voice with human experiences that drive brand results. It will develop digitally centric, media-agnostic talent who can architect those experiences across the full gamut of paid-, earned- and owned-media opportunities. It will also be a content producer, with the ability to create compelling content across all screens and devices. Lastly, it will establish a mind-set of client service as trusted advisor, playing an increasingly central role with clients.

Maria Luisa Francoli, global CEO of Havas' MPG:
Agencies need to operate as open platforms for different ideas and technologies, to come together to crystallize in facilitating brand communications with different communities of consumers and getting consumers to "sign in" for the brand by deeply connecting with their passions.

Kelly Clark, global CEO of WPP's Maxus:
There will be fewer people doing much smarter, more creative thinking to help clients build consumer relationships. Technology and data will unlock massive value gains from marketing budgets.

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