Consultants and automation to the rescue: are they enough to save the agency space in 2017?

With constant pressure on agency margins, and the uncertain economy affecting clients’ confidence, there’s a noticeable lull in the amount of money available for conventional marketing which inevitably means less money for conventional agencies as well.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. This just means it’s time we explored the opportunities available for agencies willing to prove their ROI by adapting to the ever changeable economic landscape.

With the news that there’s now an AI-powered social marketing tool, capable of predicting engagement stats and even writing posts, it’s difficult to see a future for content delivery that’s anything but automated. Especially when you consider the time and resource that’s currently poured into the creative process.

Brands should be looking at the examples set by companies such as Cosabella to see the benefits of mechanised ad delivery. It was recently reported that the lingerie brand had seen a 30% increase in customer base by replacing multiple e-commerce and digital marketing agencies with artificial intelligence.

While it is just one example that just happens to have been incredibly successful, it proves that if you focus on key KPIs it’s a viable, cost-effective alternative. It is important to note that the creative, in this instance, was not developed by the AI although that is the next logical step given the aforementioned marketing tool. A tool which is currently petrifying content creators across the globe.

Moreover, it’s not just the creative process that’s embracing automation. At SHARE Creative we’ve developed a bot, with the specific intention of cutting down resource we spend on internal recruitment. The bot gives applicants the opportunity to find out more about the agency, what jobs are available and if applicants would be a cultural fit at SHARE. However, the predominant purpose of the bot is to keep hours spent sifting through CVs and budgets spent on promoting available jobs as low as possible. Previously, we would spend up to £7,500 per candidate but now, using the SHAREbot, this has reduced massively to just £1,500.

Of course we still have to conduct interviews, but the bot conducts most of the cultural and day-to-day chemistry meetings for us. We also still have to pay for adverts on Facebook and LinkedIn but, if you think that the last time we advertised for the position of Graphic Designer we received over 1,000 applications, the benefits begin to stack up when using the bot to filter through them. This in turn allows us to reallocate this time and money into developing new ways to help our clients. Dubious? Give it a whirl by clicking on the link here.

Of course, if you’ve had your eye on marketing publications like this one recently, you’ll know that the word on everyone’s lips is ‘consultancy’. Now, this may scare creative agencies as they don’t have the greatest track record for playing well with consultants. However, if you look at the recent launch of new agencies such as Wolfgang, whose specific intention it is to bridge the gap between creative and consultancy, it’s a clear indicator that there’s a gap in the market which is yet to be saturated.

In the coming months, we'll be bombarded with articles expressing how difficult it has become to prove our worth in the creative industry and how our jobs are all going to be taken in-house or stolen by robots.

However, the crux of the issue is that solving brand problems alone won’t give clients the confidence or support needed to keep spending money. We have to find creative solutions to inefficiencies across entire organisations in order to adapt to a new era of creativity and the future of marketing.

Harry Wright is a content manager at SHARE Creative, with a penchant for linking psychological theories to modern advertising techniques. Follow him on Twitter @hazmccaz

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