Are Yesterday’s Ad Agencies Finally Dying?

“As the challenges marketers face increase, the solutions from agencies shrink. It’s time for them to step up.” That’s the opinion of Tom Goodwin, founder and CEO of the Tomorrow Group, in a recent post at The Guardian. “There is a curious tension in the current agency landscape – a vast mismatch between what clients’ …   Read More

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Are Yesterday’s Ad Agencies Finally Dying“As the challenges marketers face increase, the solutions from agencies shrink. It’s time for them to step up.”

That’s the opinion of Tom Goodwin, founder and CEO of the Tomorrow Group, in a recent post at The Guardian.

“There is a curious tension in the current agency landscape – a vast mismatch between what clients’ needs are and what agencies are working on, and this gap seems to be widening,” Goodwin explains.

True, Goodwin admits, the Internet has been both a blessing (new opportunities) and a curse (change is always hard).

“The internet has been a mixed blessing, a volatile combination of incredible, new possibilities, rampant change and some of the most destructive forces the marketplace has ever seen,” Goodwin contends. “On a communications level we have a plethora of new media channels, memes circling the world in seconds, the app of the moment bursting onto the scene, and trends like content marketing, native advertising, and influencer marketing to navigate and leverage. The options seem more bewildering than ever and more abruptly changing, all in a context where attention is moving onto platforms which become even harder to connect with people.”

What’s to be done? Goodwin believes agencies need to up their games.

“You would imagine this would have led to large-scale changes in the advertising industry. We’ve seen the press releases, the acquisitions, the new models on slideshows, and the constant stream of white papers, so in our hearts we feel like it has,” Goodwin notes. “But the reality of the current agency environment is that actually nothing has really changed, and the few things that have changed have become less ambitious, less valuable, and more tactical in nature.”

In fact, Goodwin thinks, agencies need to think bigger and start serving the real needs of clients.

“We’ve created the long tail of marketing, where each campaign has ever smaller budgets, ever shorter lifespans, diminishing aims, all so wonderfully cheap in execution, so wonderfully proficient in terms of outputs, but so entirely pointless,” he says. “It’s this maintaining excitement for a Twitter feed of 4,000 people, or keeping the 500 subscribers on YouTube happy that is the marketing of our time. It may be cheap, but it’s a pointless distraction and it’s not solving any of the problems that are keeping our clients up at night.”

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