As creative businesses, agencies naturally fixate on Web3, the metaverse, retail media, interactive ads, even AI, while the top 200 advertisers command their attention because they fund the most experimentation and highest production values. Yet agency growth depends on meeting the intensifying needs of the middle market, the growing swath of companies with challenger mindsets and revenues of between $100 million and $1 billion. With 350,000 companies, 53 million employees and more than one-third of the gross domestic product, they’re bedrock for the economy and our industry.
Unlike big brands for which the conventional agency playbook was developed, middle marketers are often redefining their companies as they grow. They’re reorienting from manufacturing to marketing mindsets, inventing new ways to sell products, rapidly acquiring brands and perpetually repositioning to keep pace with their markets. And they’re doing it with fewer resources (data and people to do scenario planning) than established competitors. The upshot: Middle marketers can’t be wrong as often, afford any waste or justify an iterative strategy. They need to make fewer, bigger bets that pay off. To do it in the years ahead, they’ll need a new level of speed and orchestration to achieve systemic solutions.