Independents’ Day

Agility, transparency and entrepreneurialism will power a renaissance for independent media agencies. David Indo, Ceo of ID Comms, explains.

Much has changed in the last three years and independent agencies could be the beneficiaries. There are many advertisers who are disillusioned and frustrated with the holding groups options.

I’ve sat in on media pitches worth more than $10bn and what I see is a world that has changed dramatically since 2015. For independents what matters is that we have moved on from the age of scale to a time where brands are more aware of what they need from media and how agencies work.

This is all very different from the Mediapalooza of 2015, a great ‘firesale’ of recklessness and commoditised media inventory/pricing.

Behind a veneer of strategy was a gigantic race to the bottom. e-auctions were common, encouraging agencies to take wild and reckless bets. Accounts moved based on savings guarantees worth tens and sometimes hundreds of millions of dollars.

Since then, of course, we’ve had John Mandel’s infamous presentation at the ANA conference of 2015, the ANA transparency report and Marc Pritchard’s speech at the IAB in 2017 about the ‘murky supply chain’.

In the UK, ISBA has launched a new contract template for media, which has been widely adapted around the world, while the ANA has challenged its members to take back control of media decision-making.

Changing the culture of media takes time, however, and the real impact is only now coming to the market. Advertisers have spent the last two years conducting deep diagnostic work, identifying the gaps and weaknesses in their internal media operating models. As a result they are far more informed as to what agency operating model they are looking for and the profile of agency partners they want to work with.

In the old media world, scale was important. Advertisers with large budgets demanded the lowest prices and access to premium solutions from media owners. Consolidation into one agency made sense.

Today, progressive advertisers better understand the role that any agency partners need to play in delivering their business goals. This has allowed marketers to clearly define a ‘blueprint’ for external agency support that doesn’t automatically play into the hands of the big agency groups. Some are actively fragmenting scope and using individual service providers to deliver best-in-class services rather than consolidating within a one-stop-shop holding group.

Media reviews in 2018 are about data, talent and informed media decision-making with transparency guarantees as a condition of entry. Irrespective of size, the pitches we are involved in this year have all included independent media agencies and independent specialist agencies on the long-list.

Pitch briefs increasingly focus on themes such as agility, entrepreneurialism, single P&Ls, transparency, market excellence, disclosure and partnership. All of which are core values and, often, unique behaviours of the independent agency category, which offers values and competencies that more and more advertisers are demanding.

The independent agencies will succeed thanks to their unique skill set and ability to seduce clients. The new media world is a renaissance for the independents and it’s only the beginning.

David IndoDavid Indo is the CEO of ID Comms and has been solving marketing communications challenges for almost two decades. This piece was written as part of thenetworkone’s 2018 Media essay collection.

To Download the full Media essay collection, click here.


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