The Full Service Publisher.
First there’s understanding the client’s objective: Which feature of their product do they need customers to better understand? To which competitor are they trying to compare themselves favorably? Then we’ve got to get busy with the message, the talent that’s going to deliver it and the actual drafting of copy and shooting of video.
Now it’s time to figure out how to scientifically distribute the message – media planning essentially – and how to measure and analyze the outcomes. Round it all out with great customer service and the occasional look at important trends and big new ideas.
Sounds like a great recipe for a winning ad agency, right? Well….
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The top of this post might once have described the cadence of a full service agency. But today this kind of soup-to-nuts delivery of service is just as likely to come from a publisher. The agency business today is an embarrassment of niches: one shop does the planning, another the buying, a third the digital, a trading desk takes on the program stuff. Within a given holding company, there are even more agencies for creative, multicultural marketing, events, shopper marketing and more. There are even agencies to help the client navigate all those other agencies. Full service? Not in decades.
Nature abhors a vacuum and so does a marketer. The space where client/agency ‘partnerships’ used to grow is increasingly being harvested by media companies and platforms. The idea isn’t new: I wrote about it in this space back in 2010. What’s changed, though, is the urgency and speed with which erstwhile sales organizations are stepping up to the plate. Not surprising, though. The availability of ad “inventory” has broken wide open and its relative value has fallen dramatically. To make a living – to stay alive – publishers had to find new ways to create value. And those new ways look a lot like the old ways that agencies used to do it.