In Media and Creative, This Will Be the Year of Agency Integration

Economies of Scale Are Vanishing: No Need to Partner With the Big Guys

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In September, creative powerhouse Wieden & Kennedy won the TurboTax media-buying account, two months after pulling in that brand's creative business. This led Ad Age's Rupal Parekh to write, "This move could be a sign that scale is growing less important compared with integration." Could it? Absolutely. In 2014, we will see a big shift toward the integration of media and creative.

After considering it for years, my agency, Traction, launched a media department last year. The final straw for us was when we made it to the finals in a pitch for Ross Stores. We partnered with a media agency and were told we had lost the business because the client was uncomfortable dealing with two agencies instead of one.

Conventional thinking has had the agency world divided into silos. The economies of scale that large buying agencies could provide meant advertisers could get cheaper rates by buying with the big guys. But technology is changing the playing field.

Here are three reasons marketers should look to integration of media and creative:

The democratization of media buying. The robots are taking over, as programmatic tools automate the process of media buying, Programmatic buying is coming to dominate digital at a rapid rate, and it's only a matter of time before television advertising is purchased with such tools as well.

These robots plug into exchanges to make purchases. The exchanges use supply and demand to determine pricing of inventory. No one gets a discount for having buying power in an exchange-based model. There will be up-fronts where big marketers still command bargains. The big spenders will get lower ad serving fees from Google. But overall, the ability of large agencies to provide lower costs has been substantially diminished, and this trend will continue. There is no reason to stick with the silo model.

The value of an impression. Marketers need to move beyond simply counting impressions. Consumers are in control. They move seamlessly from one channel to the next throughout their day, bombarded by messages. Predictably, they tune out most of it.

If you are going to get value out of an impression, you need to make one. That means being unexpected, creative and media savvy. These things happen consistently when people making the choices sit together and brainstorm, or bump into each other at the water cooler. It happens when they are part of a team.

One throat to choke. Accountability is a joke when you have separate agencies working on media and creative. When things go well, everyone wants to take credit. When things go poorly, no one does. The media shop blames the creative. The creative agency cries that the media dorks just don't get it. Ultra-conservative marketing objectives are put in place because no one wants to be responsible for things they can't control.

People don't get fat bonuses for hitting ultra-conservative goals. And whom are you going to fire if those goals aren't met?

The marketing landscape is dizzyingly complex. Navigating your way through it requires approaching your problems holistically. Integrated thinking across creative and media provides that.

Adam Kleinberg is CEO of Traction.
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