Media Agency

End of Days.

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End of DaysThe leading advertiser organization in the world – the ANA — just issued a 58-page report accusing its ad agency “partners” of everything from shady buying practices to kickbacks to conflict of interest.  The ad agencies’ own trade group – the 4As – has naturally cried foul, arguing that they should have been fully involved in the investigation all along (not unlike having the defense team sit on a grand jury).  But the whole food fight about whether the report was fair or accurate or should have named names just distracts us from the big truth at its core:  The entire premise of the media agency has timed out.

It’s being argued by agency defenders that the ANA’s motive is money and control;  that advertisers are trying to squeeze even more blood from the empty stone of agency margins, and that advertiser procurement practices and policies have been destructive to the advertiser/agency ‘partnership.’  That may well be true, but think about this:  would the ANA have even considered such a drastic and destructive step if advertisers hadn’t already pretty much given up on the media agency?  The media agency problem isn’t the K2 report.  The problem is relevance and time.  The problem is rust.

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The simple truth is that the media agency is a transactional intermediary in an age where transactions have already been digitized and power and control have shifted from the intermediary to the transacting parties.  Travel booking once exclusively belonged to the travel agent; now it’s almost exclusively a direct transaction between the traveler and the carrier or hotel.  There are a hundred more examples of intermediaries being marginalized.  And the media agency position today has the unmistakable feel of a late stage disintegration.

Marketers, publishers, media companies and technologists are all innovating; often for the better, sometimes for the worse, but always with remarkable speed.  The media agency is increasingly seen as a high-priced toll collector who’s adding time and cost but not value to the trip.  A good friend of mine who’s been on the inside of the agency/client relationship argues that the media agency will now and forever more be in a state of perpetual review… yet another sign that the jig is up.

Group M’s Rob Norman writes persuasively about how his company is in a state of massive reinvention; that its investments and partnerships make it a fundamentally different kind of company and change the value equation.  Rob may well be right:  the ultimate spawn of WPP/GroupM/Xaxis may well be successful.  It just won’t be a media agency.  All that’s left for that model are more reviews, continued assault on margins and less relevance.

And rust.

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Six Questions for Colin Kinsella

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Colin KinsellaIf you think media is the back office of the advertising business, you’ve been asleep since the late 80s.  As CEO of Mindshare North America, Colin Kinsella knows it’s now the center of gravity.  He’ll share his thoughts in an intimate discussion at the Seller Forum on Tuesday October 28th in New York.

1.    Disruption is a key theme of the Seller Forum.  How are you proactively disrupting the business of Mindshare?

By creating products that change the culture. We’ve created THE LOOP, which helps make us collaborative (with more constituents), and helps us make faster and smarter decisions for our clients.  Through this data-infused system, we develop insights that are put into action every day. This system is changing our culture. It’s a new way of working, thinking and delivering for clients.

2.    Agencies like yours are evolving rapidly.  What’s one thing you value less in publisher relationships than you would have two years ago?

Off the shelf content solutions.  We want to partner to build more specific, real time, programs for our clients that enhance their marketing efforts. So often we’re served standard added value products that we don’t necessarily want to shoehorn into an idea or program.

This week’s Drift is proudly underwritten by REDBOOKS. For ad sales and business development, REDBOOKS is the most effective prospecting and competitive intelligence tool – used by your peer teams at Google, ABC, CBS, Comcast, ESPN, Time, Apple, Adobe and ad-tech companies of all sizes. Real-time, actionable news/alerts, direct contact info + all the context to close sales faster.

3.    Describing programmatic trading in 2010, we used phrases like “real time bidding,” “land rush” and “open exchange.” How would you describe it in 2014?

Real time, strategic media investment.

4.    A media sales leader asks you for advice in building a strategy for growing business with Mindshare.  What do you offer?

For the right partners, they are active members of the team.  

5.    What are the non-traditional places where we should seek the next generation of talent for our business?

This year we just launched an intern program called Data Bytes.  All our interns came from engineering, math, and science disciplines to work in our Marketing Sciences group discovering data correlations and insights. I would encourage all our partners to find those excited by math and art.

6.    Complete this sentence:  “The media agency business is approaching a renaissance because….”

Marketing begins and ends in media.  With change accelerating, point solutions will lose out to connected solutions.  Only a media agency can connect the dots to drive smarter decision and better results.   Our time has never been brighter.

There are just 9 seats left for the Seller Forum. If you are a qualified attendee — top sales leadership in a company that sells advertising and media services to companies like Mindshare and its clients — contact us today for your invitationDon’t miss the kinds of insights and conversations that can happen only at Seller Forum.

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