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The agency model of the future is ‘inspired by tech, but not a slave to it’

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By Jenni Baker | Senior Editor

July 13, 2023 | 6 min read

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Kantar’s UK MD Dom Boyd kickstarts conversation in Cannes on the future of the agency model and why it is data-inspired, tech-powered and flexible.

Image from Kantar Sky Case Study

Image from Kantar Sky Case Study

When every dollar is being interrogated harder than ever, agencies are under more pressure to deliver high quality work faster and at better value for clients. And there’s further disruption ahead. From legacy infrastructure to siloed teams and increased demand for different skills and capabilities, is the current agency model set up in the right way to succeed?

Consumer expectations change. New channels erupt and disrupt. Audiences become more distributed across media. Clients demand even more from their agencies. Agencies must evolve and adapt. That’s where technology plays a strong enabling role.

“The marketing and media landscape is changing so the challenge is really how to ensure that the outputs you’re delivering – whether it’s creative ideas or, in our case, insights and advice – is really driving value for clients,” says Dom Boyd, managing director, UK insights and marketing effectiveness practice at Kantar. “It’s ensuring that every single thing that you’re doing is delivering a better and stronger return than it’s ever done.”

Turning distraction into focus

Boyd says the challenge for agencies now is thinking about how to bring people together but, more crucially, how to keep them focused.

“In times of volatility, it’s very easy to get distracted and the challenges for clients are tougher than ever,” he says. “We need to make sure that we show up in a way which is really joined up, focused on what clients are focused on, and adding value.”

Many clients are on a digital transformation journey to evolve with market trends – agencies too are figuring out how to differentiate. Many are looking to what is possible beyond media, creative and strategy to build out their capabilities and position them for success to influence the always-on, digital world around them.

Kantar is also on this journey, as Boyd explains: “We’re ruthlessly focused on shaping the brands of the future, and technology plays a huge role in that. You must have your north star and know what you’re trying to be and how you’re trying to show up – but you need to enable that and set it free through new possibilities.

“Technology allows us new possibilities, so we’ve been investing hundreds of millions of pounds in technology that helps us deliver better outcomes more efficiently and with more agility. And yes, that incorporates AI in all kinds of different ways.”

The differentiator for decisions

But as agencies flex to embrace the different possibilities of technology as it comes in every shape and form – whether that’s data, AI, ChatGPT and more – to be more efficient and accurate, Boyd says there’s still an important thing to remember: “It’s not just about the technology, it’s about what you do with technology together as a client, as an agency, as a partnership, and making sure that ultimately, you’re making better decisions. And using those decisions to set your brand free and create bigger returns for the client’s business.”

“Technology is just an enabler, it’s not the solution. It’s one thing that can act as a catalyst to just be better at what we do,” he says.

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As for how it will impact the agency model of the future, Boyd believes that “tech isn’t a substitute for expertise, it’s a compliment. The opportunity is to get the best of both by ensuring that you’re getting the agility of what tech enables, but not compromising in any way the expertise. In fact, using it as a catalyst to bring that expertise to life.”

“The agency model of the future is one that is absolutely inspired by technology, but it’s not a slave to it,” he concludes.

Watch the full interview with Kantar’s Dom Boyd on The Drum TV.

Marketing Agency Models Cannes Lions

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