Recently, one of Australia’s larger media agencies announced its intention to revamp its management structure with the objective of expanding its strategic planning expertise and building some ‘centres of excellence’ around the various and ever expanding media disciplines.
This highlights the very broad base of disciplines now encompassed by the term ‘Media Agency’ and the complex matrix of specialities, specialists and players now plying their trades in the market.
Generalists or Generally Specialists?
Most of the bigger media agencies have developed varying levels of expertise and silos of specialisation to suit the changing face of the market. Research, Analytics, Channel Planning, Technology, Consumer Insights, Sponsorship, Online, are just some of the relatively newer areas of proficiency and sit alongside developments of some of the older functions like ‘Strategic Planner’, ‘Trading Director’ or ‘Business Manager’. One could be forgiven for assuming that some of the latter are merely re-badged versions of more traditional roles.
Breaking It Down
Along with internal specialisation, there are the specialist ‘consultancies’ that concentrate in very specific disciplines and work alongside the more traditional media agency structure. The most obvious perhaps is the media strategic and analytics agencies that sit apart from the implementation and buying agency in order to provide their clients with advice ‘untainted’ by any suggestion that they are not ‘media neutral’.
They are ‘arms length’ from the media and their remuneration is in no way dependent on media channel selection so they can claim the high ground in this area. This view conveniently ignores the fact that many ‘full service’ media agencies are now also remunerated in such a way as to make the media selection process totally separate from the way they make their money.
Freedom of Choice
As the now long established ‘unbundled’ market originally resulted in the establishment of a highly competitive segment of ‘independent’ media agencies, it’s evolution has seen these specialist consultancies emerge to serve yet another ‘niche’ in the market. What does this really mean for the advertiser? Ultimate freedom of choice.
Like the look of a particular media agency for their buying ability? No problem, hand them just that function. Feel a good ‘chemistry’ with the strategic specialists elsewhere? It’s theirs! Want to use a specific researcher within another company? Or excited by the possibility of that analytics company? Have them provide you with a proposal.
The real problem for advertisers now is too much choice. How do you benchmark the abilities of your current media agency? How do you compare the efficacy of their specialist divisions with independent alternatives? Is it better to unbundle everything and take the best of each discipline or accept the ease of a ‘one stop shop? In a competitive review, how do you make sense of all the claims and counter claims across so many areas of expertise?
The Bottom Line
The fact is that there is no single solution for all marketers, just as there is no single strategic requirement. Our approach is to clearly the define the current state against the current and future strategic requirements and then identify the best model and structure to deliver this. We call this the TrinityP3 Strategic Supplier Alignment and it works across all disciplines or one discipline like media and channel planning.