How Social Is Breaking Old Agency Models

“Data Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media. 

Today’s column is written by Paul Turner, General Manager of EMEA, Adaptly.

The social ecosystem is waging change on traditional powerbases within the industry. Not only has power shifted back to the publisher (the social network) in a big way, but increasingly the delineation has blurred between different types of agency.

Social has facilitated the democratization of advertising faster than any other online (or offline) discipline. In the same way that the brand is also now the publisher, the agency creating the content can now easily amplify that content through paid and likewise the agency traditionally focused only on paid can now easily create content.

The single major factor driving this rapid change has been the emergence of the native advertising model. As the ad unit itself is now simply an extension of the content creation process within the network, it looks like any other piece of content you might consume there. Paid media is only as good as the content behind it and content is only as good as how many relevant people see it. Success can still be measured in terms of CTR but more and more large brands want to know about their engagement. That means brands are looking at both the reach (number of people) and penetration (amount of consumption). It goes without saying then that many brands will transition social spend to a gross rating point/target rating point model in the coming months, to mirror their TV spending.

If ad creative is merely an extension of content creation and curation, then who owns it? As we’ve seen through the emergence of new paid technology, paid media in social works best when there’s a clear and consistent communication strategy in place and where advertising dollars are used to boost better quality native units. For the first time we’re seeing dyed in the wool media agencies having to think about content themes and calendars. Likewise we’re also seeing PR agencies being given media spend to boost content they create. It’s too early to say how seismic the shift will be but we’re definitely in the middle of a mini land grab – where traditional agency silos no longer hold true and where the agency best able to demonstrate how they can combine content and paid to deliver both optimal engagement and performance wins.

We are still in the early stages of this change but it’s clear that social is forcing agencies of all descriptions to alter the way they view themselves, to no longer think of the media planning and buying process as an iterative, piece by piece approach where once one agency has completed their part they hand the baton over to the next agency in the chain. We’re closer than ever before to a time when agencies of different disciplines can confidently pitch to be the ‘voice of the brand’. Prepare for some interesting mergers, acquisitions and the emergence of new agency models that continually threaten the established way of working.

Follow Paul Turner (@turnerpd) and (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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