Managing Marketing: Review The Last Decade Of Media And the Next

Chris Walton, Managing Director of Nunn Media, has a long and successful career in media. Back in November 2013, he was asked to provide his predictions for the coming trends in media. The result appeared in Mumbrella under the headline “How big data will transform media agencies.” Here we are, more than ten years later, discussing how those predictions have aged over that time.

A week is a long time in politics. It is also a long time in the media. So, imagine how the media has changed over the past decade regarding transparency, negotiating power, collaboration, and more.

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Even when there’s willingness and desire and a common goal as you like, trying to get different types of people to work seamlessly together was a fascinating exercise. Highly frustrating at the time. But we got there.



Hi, I am Darren Woolley, founder, and CEO of TrinityP3 Marketing Management Consultancy, and welcome to Managing Marketing, a weekly podcast where we discuss the issues and opportunities facing marketing, media, and advertising with industry thought leaders and practitioners.

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A week is a long time in politics, it’s said, it’s also a long time in media. So, imagine how media has changed over the past decade.

My guest today has a long and successful career in media, and back in November 2013, was asked to provide his predictions for the coming trends in media. The results which appeared in Mumbrella under the headline, How Big Data Will Transform Media Agencies, is absolutely there for everyone to see today.

But here we are 10 years later to discuss how those predictions have aged over that time. Please welcome to the Managing Marketing Podcast, the managing director of Nunn Media, Australia’s leading independent media agency, Mr. Chris Walton. Welcome Chris.


Morning Darren. How are you?


I’m very well, Chris. And I think we worked together a long time ago, didn’t we?


Cool. You ran the first pitch I was ever involved in, in Australia in 2004.


There we go. Well, we-


No, I didn’t win it.


I’m not going to apologize. I try and run a fair pitch. So, Chris, we all in the industry get asked to come up with our vision of what’s going to happen and most of us will just pull things out of the air hoping that no one will ever look back on it. But what actually bought this article about in Mumbrella?


Yeah, interesting. Before doing what I’m doing now, I was actually principal at Quantium, which I joined in very start of 2009 when it was a very small company. There was about 30 of us. And I basically went there, I was drawn by the interest in what data and analytics could bring to marketing.

And to be fair, after doing a long stint in media agencies, I kind of thought that chapter had ended. And then I went to Quantium, which was a wonderful adventure culminating in the purchase of half of the business in 2013 by Woolworth’s group.

Now as a shareholder there, what I was unaware of was that actually was the start of the end for me. And I actually left the business a couple of months after that. And I was in between jobs, I suppose, contemplating going back to media agency land.

But having been in data analytics, I was able to just kind of reflect on after spending time outside of media agencies, just what the future might hold for them and how data at the time, which was the big topic, will have an impact on them. And as these worlds were coming close together, I thought I’d reflect on what I thought was going to happen.


Look, because it’s a fascinating read, and kudos to you for sharing the fact that you’d written this article or contributed to the article 10 years ago on LinkedIn, which is where I saw it and thought, “This is really interesting.” Because I tracked it down and read through it.

And thought, “Well, we should have a conversation around how those predictions or observations, let’s say, stack up and where we are today and perhaps, get you again to make some predictions for the future.”

So, let me start with the first thing. So, you’ve just finished a few years as a principal and a shareholder at Quantium working with huge amounts of data, and yet one of the first things you say in the article is you’re actually not a big fan of the term big data.

Not a big fan of Big Data


Yeah. Well, to me, data is data is data. And so, data suggests there’s a lot of information just the term. So, to me, big data was a bit like saying wet water, it is kind of the first, as in the second.

So, I just thought everybody loves a moniker, and that seems to have stuck for the time. It seems to have unstuck since then, which I’m happy about. And so, I was a little bit, just get over it and just call it data for goodness sake. Why do you need another word?


Well, I think it was convenient for, remember the consultancies were on the rise then, and they were talking it up, it was big data. There was going to be not just terabytes, but huge amounts of data available because of the internet. And I think a lot of people were struggling with what they were actually going to do with it.


Totally. I mean, this was interesting for me going into Quantium and I suppose seeing data sources and what Quantium recognized earlier was the value and potentially in primary data sources. That’s why they kind of … around kind of hoovering up ownership, if you like, for these.

And just the potential to drive insight and value for businesses of appropriate application of different tools and methods and techniques with data just blew my mind because it was on a level above anything I’d seen within the holding groups.

And just the ambition and the understanding of what can be done with data sources just blew my mind away. And that’s what I found quite invigorating.


Well, certainly, at the start of this century, the 21st century, a media agency was largely working with perhaps three or four sources. You’d have your licensed data, whether it was Morgan or Nielsen or something like that. You’d have your sources of data from the media owners themselves, and then you may have some data if you’re lucky from your client.

But largely that was it, and I think the big data label came about because suddenly it was, wow, there’s all these sources of data, whether it’s ABS data or weather data, people started thinking about pulling all this together, purchase data, transactions and things like that suddenly became this opportunity.

But I think, it’s only recently that we’ve started to see people — and when I say recently, maybe in the last five years, people starting to get their head around what can actually be done with it.


Yeah. We’ve had to go through a long process. I mean, again, when I was at Quantium, the key data source we had first before the Woolworths data was NAB data. And NAB was millions of transactions a day from millions of customers.

It was actually what they spent, actually where they spent it. And observed behavior is always more accurate than claimed behavior. And it’s just on a scale and depth. And that allowed you to dive deeper, segment better and deploy back then before privacy became the understandably issue it is today, but deploy it in a way to be, you were just making far more informed decisions. Far more in real time.

And it just made you realize that actually the data sources that media agencies at the time were being run on were at best allowing for a shotgun approach.




And that was fine at the time, but the world has changed, and you could see how the need to be more pinpoint and specific and segmented was required.


Well, yeah. And the world has changed. One of the things that — your next point was clients will not need media agencies, was your next prediction. Funny because I feel like with the rise of the independent agencies, including Nunn Media, that there seems to be more media agencies, not less.

Clients will not need media agencies


That’s a really interesting point. I mean, and it says a lot there. I mean, by that, again, I’d spent all my career within a holding group and within that you kind of assumed … you didn’t see any other angle. So, you assumed that what you did was an important part of what your clients did every day. And that would always be needed.

Stepping outside of agencies, you saw, even back then, that that wasn’t the case. What media agencies provided was one part of one part of some people’s jobs. It wasn’t high up on the priority list.

Many clients, like I said in the article, actually endured, rather than enjoyed their media agency relationship, somebody had to do it. And you saw the potential for really to offer other stuff beyond what the cookie cutter approach of the big agencies was.

So, what we’ve seen, I think since then is if I’d rewrite on the title now that maybe saying clients will not need holding company media agencies, and I’m not — yes, I work for an independent now, but there’s more to it than that.

What independents have done is been able to understand almost with a blank sheet you paid for, what is it? Their particular type of clients. And there’s a thing in there, they’re not going for everybody. What they want and what they need, and being able to adapt accordingly so they don’t come with this kind of already built infrastructure that needs to be deployed, whether you are this type of client or that type of client.

So, in a way, I mean, if you were an alien that just landed from Earth and you explained the media industry to this alien, and you said, “What type of business would dominate,” they would come up with large, international, globally connected businesses, not a whole raft of independence. And at my last count, there was, what, 53, 54 independent media agencies in Sydney.

So, really the fact that independent agencies are not only surviving, but thriving is I think an indictment on the media agency industry for how it’s lack of involvement, lack of investment, lack of forward looking and therefore, that’s why I came to the conclusion and still come to the conclusion actually, clients do not need to employ a media agency at all if they’re that way inclined.


Well, Chris, I think there’s a really important thing in what you just said, and that is that we are seeing, for instance, in housing of media happening at the big end of town where someone’s got a very large media investment and they can afford to start recruiting the people and getting the technology, whether it’s customer data platforms and MMMs, marketing mixed models and things like that and bringing it in-house.

At the other end, it’s really interesting because small businesses that grow, start off often doing their own media, whether it’s one of the wall gardens like Facebook, and suddenly they realize, “Oh my God, we’re spending so much money, maybe we should go and get some help here.”

And that’s when they’ll go to an agency. But they don’t want necessarily the big agency, the big international agency where they’ll feel like the little fish in the big pond, but where many of the independents will pick up a client that may be spending half a million, a million dollars on media and grow them up to a client that’s spending 5 or 10 million on media because of that hands-on aligned approach. Does that resonate with you?


Yeah, totally. I think it’s a mindset thing. I think now most successful agencies be the independent or holding company will have taken the view that it’s — we are looking after a client’s business for a certain period of time before … it’s their prerogative, how they work, who they work with, which could change at any time.

So, you almost view it as a privilege and almost view the mindset you take is that you are working with a client almost preparing them to be able to take it in-house. If you have that mindset openness with them of understanding that they can, and in some cases should take services in-house, then that changes the nature of your relationship. If you are in a defensive kind of hold onto all of the money trying to eke out as much as we can, your clients can see that a mile off.

So, it’s a mindset thing about what you are doing that you are being given permission to take responsibility for a certain part of this brand’s investment. And that’s a big responsibility that requires diligence resilience, openness, proactiveness, accessibility, all of these things.

None of these things, by the way, are IP in terms of hardware, software. It’s a way of working. It’s a mindset. If you can take that mindset, then clients will embrace that. Because a lot of the reasons they take business in-house is for lack of trust, for lack of dynamism and agility. For lack of control.

Again, it’s for some almost emotion-based stuff, but if you can act in a way that shows that those are moot points you can take on any time, it actually can be quite disarming.


Yep. Absolutely. Now, we can’t do a podcast without mentioning AI, and that could be a big driver of actually bringing about your prediction of clients not needing media agencies. I think it was a week or two ago in Media Village, there was a prediction that AI will mean the end of most media agency activities in the next five years. That most of the work that agencies do around planning and buying will be completely replaced by an AI algorithm.


Yeah. The great thing about AI is you can say anything about it at the moment, and oh, okay, as long as you kind of look … you maybe scratch your chin as you’re looking whimsically in the distance.

I mean, you’re right. The only thing we can agree on, it’s going to make changes. We are seeing it within our business, both on helping with micro tasks as well as the way up through to thinking of ideas. Sorry, I just hate the word ideation, but there we go.

It’s going to go on and I think again, the mindset needs to be, except change will happen, change will happen in many different ways, shapes or forms. We’re starting to see, it’s almost a case of whatever you do, do something to start looking and understanding, knowing there’s no clear answer at the moment.

It will change today and tomorrow and the next day, but this change is coming in some way, shape or form. And I think some of the predictions of taking jobs or whatever are probably likely to be true.


Well, I mean, we’ve both heard, and you’ve probably seen inside, particularly the large media agencies junior people straight out of university in their first three years in the industry, literally doing things like manually collating data into Excel spreadsheets as part of the reporting process.

Now, this is perfectly attuned to being replaced or being at least streamlined by something like an AI to do those sorts of tasks. As you often wonder what’s the educational process that that’s having? The education should be in then being able to look at it and see what insights or advice should be coming out of it.


Yeah, totally. I mean, I remember a long time ago now when I did maths at school, you were not allowed calculators. And the reason being is that there was … the thinking was you need to understand their relationship between numbers and how a calculation works.

And that’s a very good point I think when it comes to some aspects of media, which kind of manual tasks actually help develop a base understanding which will stand people in good stead in the future, versus which of those actually, by the buy are just not going to be done.

I mean, and there was some point in the past where knowing how to make a good horse carriage would not stand you in good stead for when the automobile took over. So, the understanding wheel technology might do, which bits do you let go? Which bits do you hold onto?

And how do you replace what is the learning process of doing some of these manual tasks? That is, again, something that I don’t think many people have got the answer for at the moment.


Now as a transition to your next point. And on this around not needing media agencies, I’ve read a couple of reports that said the wall gardens have released their own AI to help advertisers basically set and forget their media campaigns only to then get reports that cost per impression have gone right through the roof.

And in fact, the AI has very successfully spent the whole budget in a fraction of the time that would’ve been done normally.

So, I think there’s a lot to be worked through before AI completely replaces human beings in the media agency. But yeah, as you say, we can only wait and see.

Your next point was transparency will be much more important. And I think that’s a really interesting one because there are degrees of transparency, aren’t there?

Transparency will be much more important


Yes. I think we’re on a spectrum here where at one end, some clients, to be honest, fuck it. If I’m getting what I want, what goes on in the middle, the messy middle, I don’t really care.

And a point within this is that, again, a lot of discussions about what clients want and what clients need tend to be binary. Either be this or be that. But what I think within this, and transparency point picks up on it is there’s going to be shades of gray.

Some clients, as long as they’re delivered A, B and C almost don’t need to know and might give permission for agencies to go off and make money off their money somewhere else.

Whereas a lot of clients will also want to retain control. They want to know, and this is the source of a big problem in the industry, they want to know how their agency makes money. Because if they’re asking their agency for their advice, and in simple terms, a media agency is asked for advice and then is tasked with implementation. You get paid for the two things.

They need to know the context within which the advice is offered, which is arguably the higher valued part of the service, unarguably probably. So, you need to therefore be clear with clients, and a lot of clients need to know, how do you make money by working with me? How much money do you make?

And there are two questions, which I think every client is within their right to ask and know the answers of. There’s been some, I remember many times a cliche handed out is that when you buy a cup of coffee, you don’t need to ask a barista how much was the milk and how much was the sugar, and how much was the hot water? And that’s true.

But if you are asking a barista, what should I be drinking? You need to know that if they say tea or coffee or Coke Zero or whatever, is anything in their setup, in their cost structure actually influencing that? And so, therefore, I think from a model point of view, in my mind, clients deserve and should know how their agencies make money.


It is this blurry line because we talk about media agencies as if they are acting as agents on behalf of their clients. But what we’ve seen is this gradual change over time from an agent arrangement to a principal arrangement, which then encourages things like arbitrage. And allows agencies under it, which you could never do as a true agent. You could never arbitrage inventory as an agent because that was not the legal relationship.

But what we’ve got now is this principal relationship, which actively allows media agencies and their holding companies to buy large amounts of inventory at an undisclosed rate, and then be able to sell it on to advertisers at whatever margin, which is what a principal relationship is about.


Totally. And I’ll just say for just front up, be open about this, and you know what, and if any agency says that’s how we operate, and clients buy into that, excellent, bloody go for it.


That’s transparent.


That’s transparent of what your model is. I think this is linked to the challenge that a lot of agencies try and be all things to all people, ultimately sometimes try and deliver on the goals they’re giving internally for growth or revenue, whatever.

But be clear on what your business is and who it’s for. And I think a lot of the agencies that do well tend to be very clear about who their target audience is, who their clients are, and what service they’re offering them.

Doesn’t mean every single client that comes to them fits within that nice little kind of circle. But people like working with businesses, with partners who are clear on what they’re about, what they stand for, how they operate, what their model is.

And again, the problem we have is that it’s not transparent. The models are often not transparent and the supply chain is not transparent. And that’s an issue that has not gone away.


And look just to highlight that because most of the examples we’ve had in this conversation just now is about fees and revenue. But it also extends to the whole supply chain, as you said. I’ve read an article just recently Time person of the year had Taylor Swift.

Now, this was the first time in five years she’d given such an in-depth interview. And yet two of the verifying companies that get paid to verify, to make sure that an advertiser’s ads don’t appear in an unsafe environment, blocked that particular story because of the word feminism was tagged in it.

And they said, “Well, that’s unsafe.” This level of transparency is not just about how much people are making out of the transaction, but also what the service is they’re actually delivering. Because it wasn’t until someone else was checking the work of the checkers, that they found this anomaly.

I mean, if you’re going to be transparent, you would be totally transparent about how your system works. But I think one of the problems we have is with this technology, it’s all become too big to fail. So, we just all turned a blind eye to the inherent faults in it.


I think so. And also, the industry actually requires of clients and agency people a much broader, and I think sometimes unreasonably deep understanding of stuff. When I started out in this industry, you had the media, you had to understand which TV shows were big, which magazines were doing well, and whatever.

I didn’t know how a printing press worked or how the little pictures got down the cathode-ray tube. But now with all of these, the extended supply chain, supply sales side, supply side platforms, demand side platforms, all the analytics and all the different technology that the requirement to know so much across a broad area is so huge that I think a lot of people just get overwhelmed and just kind of, “You know what, whatever, if I can just give you a buck and you can go and do something, I don’t understand what happens to that buck.”

But if I get something at the end in my sort of rapport, that’s fine. And some client, and I can understand how you can end up like that, but at the same time, kind of bloody hell, what do we live in whereby this so much that is unknown?


Yep. Now, your next point was negotiation size will matter less. And in some ways that goes back to the rise of the indies, because one of the things was the dominant belief that big counted, brawn over brains, but it’s actually swapped around, hasn’t it?

Negotiation size will matter less


Well, totally, and I think this one has come true. I mean, size is important to a point, but often for other reasons and just negotiation. Whereas, I mean, the whole background to the big media agencies was an efficiency and negotiation, driving out costs, driving down costs of media and of supply and infrastructure costs for it for businesses.

And that has now more than run its course. So, I think we see that how much you negotiate with a particular media, and it matters less. Now, the value that a media industry provides is so much more on the planning side.

Media’s never been as easy to get wrong. We’re just awash with choices. We talk literally thousands and thousands of choices to face every single client. In the past, I’m exaggerating to make a point, but the planning almost did itself, and the value came from therefore the negotiation for the costs of that plan.

It’s completely flipped around. And I think therefore, I’m going to give you a little preview on a future prediction, is that the number of agencies will, as what we call traditional media agencies, will shrink significantly.

And yes, what you might call the full service, although full services now less than what it was, will start to reemerge. And a lot of it is down to this negotiation size. That whole I buy more from that person. Anybody else just matters less these days.


Yeah, absolutely. Which goes to the next point, which has said collaboration will improve and collaboration across the media ecosystem, the supply chain is interesting because you’ve got the buyer, you’ve got the agency, and then you’ve got the media owners, then you’ve got the suppliers of the content to go in that, it’s actually quite a complex ecosystem that requires collaboration, isn’t it?

Collaboration will improve


Yeah, I mean, one of our clients would be a big sporting club, to get a plan implemented, involved working with 17 different — this is a recent example, 17 different businesses. And again, he world has fragmented so in so many ways that you need to get on with people.

Now, I would say at the same time, that collaboration has always been important. Wherever I’ve worked around the world, I’ve always been intrigued about the hot shops. What is it that drives them? Why do they do so well?

And the one thing I’ve consistently never heard when I speak to media owners, clients, whatever, people who have worked in different agencies about the secret source of successful agencies, nobody ever said, “Well, they’re freaking shit to work with. They’re terrible to work with.”

It’s always quite the opposite that businesses that do well are welcoming, friendly, open, positively energized, they listen well, they just collaborate well. So, it’s always been important, but it’s, to this point of having more people, longer supply chain, more going on, it just is only becoming more so. And I think this prediction was actually correct, and has happened in pockets, but is more important than ever.


Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And we’ve seen it in that … well, I think the late Harold Mitchell said the toothpaste could never be put back in the tube, we have seen a lot of work bringing content and channel together across the various media and channel content providers.


Totally. Yeah. I think it’ll be put in a YouTube. So, I think that it will come together. I think the way the way agencies work with clients will be harder to summarize in a couple of sentences, because there will be almost as many ways of working as there are clients.

I think even what defining agencies will be harder because they won’t fit into the neat boxes they have done in the past. And so, we get all this toothpaste that come out, just go into different tubes.


Yeah. And look, Chris, I can tell you it’s already happened. I mean, our biggest challenge it’s no longer pigeonholed. You can’t pigeonhole agencies. It’s almost like everyone’s a unique piece. And this is about putting a jigsaw puzzle together to get the overall picture is becoming more and more, the challenges that we’re facing and working with, with our clients is finding the right type of agency slash supplier and in combination to actually make that happen.


I think that jigsaw analogy is an excellent one. And but the challenge the clients have is that they don’t know how many pieces in the jigsaw. The first thing you do when you do a jigsaw is the 500 pieces. Let you actually go make sure we’ve got 500 pieces first. I don’t know how many pieces and a number of pieces change.


Yeah. And also, they get to define the picture they want to end up with as well. So, yeah. The one I like is the blue sky one with no clouds. It’s the 500 pieces, 1500 pieces all blue.

Media agencies will employ different talent. I’m not sure I’ve actually seen this, but correct me if I’m wrong.

Media agencies will employ different talent


Yes. I think that is happening. I think there’s people working for … so these days if you’ve got tilling experts and Salesforce experts in-house, in an agency, that helps. They’re the type of people that wouldn’t have been there before.

If you’ve got software, some software designers. So, I would say just different types of, well, marketers we’re now working agencies. I think different talent is coming in. Again, because some graphic designers are working at certain things because one large area that is evolving is we’ve got the creative agency coming up with the big idea in the key assets, but then it doesn’t make commercial sense for them to be doing the 400 cut downs per month that are required.

That’s it. That’s increasingly being done by AI. But in the meantime, there’s been kind of, design teams have been coming in, so analysts, data scientists. Yeah. So, there has been different talent coming in.

However, the challenge there, which has stopped it, I think reaching its full potential is media agencies have very clearly, very poorly, should we say, listed a overview of what they do away moved away from media.

So, if you are a well-qualified data scientist, you want to join a business where data is clearly at the core of what that business does. So, as I mentioned, I used to be at Quantium, so if you are a well-qualified actuary, whatever, would you go to a media agency that has got a department of one where you are across a hundred clients and doing a little bit here, there ever, but trying to make them do a bit better than they were?

Or join Quantium where they are an actuarial business where you will professionally be developed personally, be with people like you, and you’ll have a shit load of lots of different types of work from day one.

And I think therefore because media agencies have tended to sit more in the generalist level, they haven’t been able to attract the quality of talent on the whole, but otherwise they might.


You’re absolutely right, Chris, because there are so many places, anyone with strong maths and that data skillset couldn’t go to, actuaries into the insurance. All of the tech companies are using data scientists and data analysts. How does a media agency compete with those options?

The other thing that I found interesting is even when they do there’s often a cultural clash between someone that’s driving a evidence-based approach as opposed to the sort of traditional, let’s call it gut instinct approach, even within the agency and quite a clash there.


That’s such a good point and it’s a long time ago now, so I can be quite open about it. But after I left Quantium, there was a pitch going on. Woolworth’s were holding a pitch for their media. Woolworth’s owned half of Quantium, Woolly’s agency was Dentsu. We were trying to hold onto it.

Both wanted to work with each other. As I’ve just left, I therefore worked for a bit consulting at Dentsu and my basic role was helping them understand how they could use the smarts within Quantium to deploy on Woolworths business, which was great. It was really welcoming.

What was fascinating for me was talk about divided by a common language. I had people from Quantium wanting to work with the likes of Dentsu, the guys from Dentsu wanting to work with the likes from Quantium.

There was willingness there, but they were just so different types of people. I just couldn’t quite connect. It was like trying to plug in a plug in the dark and you weren’t quite …

And that took a lot. We got there in the end, and they retained a business and that was great. But even when there’s willingness and desire and a common goal as you like, trying to get different types of people to work seamlessly together was a fascinating exercise. Highly frustrating at the time. But we got there.


Well, we’re running increasingly a number of tech tenders, and it’s interesting, even within client organizations, the marketers, the IT and the data scientists, which will often sit separately to marketing, they’ll work with them, but they’ll sit separately, will go into a tech tender with three very different sets of what a successful outcome looks like.

And part of our role is then actually negotiating and trying to align them to a single solution. Because IT will often be worried about risk and integration and things like that. The data scientists will want something that gives them absolute or as close to absolute, but still allow them to manipulate and play with the data. And all the marketers want is, I just want something that gives me the answer.


Yeah, totally. And that’s why you’ve got a lot of disillusioned people who are landed with trying to work through these massive tech investments that they can’t make head nor tail of.


Yeah. And so, they’re fascinating conversations. And the great thing is to your point, that if you can find common ground, the language seems to solve itself. A lot of people think it’s that everyone’s speaking different language.

I think that what it actually is, is they’re articulating their successful outcome. And no one can see the commonality. So, a lot of our role is actually bringing that about.

Chris, look, we’ve got through all your predictions, well done. I’m just really in the last few minutes that we’ve got. I’d be really keen having reviewed this now for the conversation we’ve had today. What are your sort of big predictions for the next 10 years?

The big media predictions for the next 10 years


Right. Well, the first one is it’s becoming harder to predict because I think there’s several here intertwined. Well, I think the waters are going to get muddier. So again, I think there’s going to be fewer agencies if not consolidation, rolled up mergers, whatever.

But I think also being able to put people neatly into buckets, if you do this and you do that will be harder. I think increasingly we’ll see what we’ve turned medium creative, we’ll be working closer together.

But you’ve got media and creative, you’ve got tech, we’ve just talked about, you’ve got data. We’ve spoken about CX e-commerce, all these different things. I think it will mean every engagement will be increasingly different.

So therefore, when it comes to tenders, be it the writing of tenders or even the winning of pitches, I think areas such as diagnostic capability, productization and process will actually become more important to understanding that almost like a business analyst role but within agencies.

So therefore, it’s going to become more important for agencies to know what they’re about and why and what they’re not about. So therefore, I think traditional retained agencies will diminish, it’ll be more project-based.

I think conflict will be less of an issue. Again, because every engagement will be different. If you look at some of the big consulting companies who take on all manner of tasks from all manner of businesses, what sits behind the scenes is this remarkably regimented kind of library repository of information inside knowledge.

And it’s different pieces of a jigsaw. And they’re kind of working out which ones to put in. They kidding … once say more like a Virgil Tracy who drove Thunderbird, and then we working out what to put in a pod and what to give which pod to take.

So, that side of things will become more important. And that’s where the value will come in the wake of this, shall we say, AI revolution. Is in a way, the skills will change from being negotiation and implementation to being far more about diagnostic product and process.

Collaboration will … just ratcheted up. I mean, what you’ve got to be, I think the successful agencies, consultancies, whatever, will be comfortable in what they do, but also be comfortable in what they don’t do.

And we’ll be embracing providers of research, analytics, modeling, Tracksuit, Mutinex, profit, all of these businesses, going to them with an open and embracing mindset of how can you help us help our clients rather than a good old-fashioned revenue, “We can do that. because we’ve got John who’d done two years of study and read a book is sitting in our corner.”

So, I think it’s mindset wins and thinking long-term wins. And I think all of those, what’s that? That’s about 47 predictions wrapped up in about three seconds. Sorry.


No, not at all. I mean, fascinating because it’s interesting how many of those are really an extension of what we’ve seen and been talking about for the bulk of this is extending that into the future. It’s almost like these trends are continuums and not discreet solutions in their own right.


Yes. It’s not like, “Well, we’ve done that one, now onto the next,” and they just emerge and evolve and yeah, the only constant is change. Shoot me.


That’s what they say. Chris Walton, this has been a terrific conversation. I really appreciate you. Well, first of all, ten years ago or 2013, a bit more than ten years ago, sitting down and being willing to share your thoughts and ideas on where the media agency world was going.

But also joining me today and reviewing that and giving us a view into your view of the next ten years. So, thank you very much.


My pleasure, Darren. It’s been great fun.


And look, I have a question: Do you think you’ll be up for revisiting this in 10 years’ time? Should I start pencilling in a podcast for 2034 now?