Rob Pierre, chief executive of Jellyfish reflects on the function of an agency in 2020. Here, he shares five areas where the change will be most dramatic.
The role and relevance of agencies has been a hot topic in our industry for as long as I can remember. Buzzwords like ‘in-housing’, ‘hybrid models’ and ‘cagencies’ have permeated conversations over the years as different players in the agency world grapple to find their place within a fast-moving media landscape.
For me, the term ‘agency’, which the Cambridge Dictionary defines as ‘a business that provides a service to other people or organisations’, just isn’t fit for purpose in today’s highly collaborative and connected digital world. At Jellyfish, we are digital partners, crossing agency services, consultancy, training and technology to provide brands with a 360-degree digital proposition.
Putting terminology aside, there’s no doubt that this has been a challenging year for businesses, large and small. Ever before this, the emergence of new technologies and platforms meant that brands were faced with an entirely new media ecosystem to navigate. When this is coupled with a pandemic that has brought about three years’ worth of change in the space of three months, then the need for action becomes a business game-changer.
The pandemic brought into sharp focus for brands where the opportunities for digital transformation lie. This isn’t just a ‘nice-to-have’ but a business imperative that could mean the difference between a business surviving and thriving or becoming extinct. As brands face this harsh reality, I’d argue that the role that our industry plays has never been more vital.
Transformation is something that we talk about a lot in marketing. The challenges that businesses face right now represent an opportunity for marketers to reflect, hit reset and transform for the digital age. This is exactly where agency partners can come into their own and demonstrate the invaluable role that they play in supporting client growth.
I’ve broken down ’transformation’ into five helpful points.
People are the lifeblood of our industry. For brands, having access to the right talent as they embark on or continue with their digital maturity is essential. In addition to this, it’s important to think about striking the right balance between people and technology as automation increasingly plays a role in our world.
It’s vital that brands assess whether the infrastructure within their business is conducive to delivering an effective digital transformation strategy. How is their business structured? Do they work in silos and how do they work with their agency partners? Lacking the right infrastructure can be a real barrier to any brand’s journey to digital maturity.
As the media ecosystem continues to evolve, achieving a single customer view across all channels will no longer be the holy grail for marketers. As the walls of the walled gardens continue to get higher, we’re seeing platforms wanting to own the entire user journey and experience. This in turn means that brands will not be owning data in quite the same way.
With data privacy and the death of the cookie being front of mind for many marketers, brands will be looking carefully at how they gather and utilise customer data. We’re heading towards a zero-party data approach, where brands collect data from consumers either directly through their in-house marketing teams or via their agency partners.
Optimising assets in today’s media ecosystem requires a broad range of skills and the expert blending of creativity and technology. Having access to a breadth and depth of technologies is crucial for effective media optimisation.
The media ecosystem has changed dramatically in recent years and today’s consumers are engaging with brands in new and exciting ways. If brands aren’t speaking the new digital language, they risk being left behind. Often, brands will have the essential tools to thrive in today’s landscape: storytelling, planning, creativity. The key is to apply these to a different canvas in order to thrive in today’s digital world.
There has never been a more important time for brands to ensure they are positioned with the right partners for growth and are focused on the path toward digital transformation. Whether you’re a brand or an agency partner, in a world where even the disrupters can be disrupted, standing still simply isn’t an option.
Rob Pierre is chief executive of Jellyfish.