Agency models holding back digital transformation for brands, CMO survey warns

MediaSense: has launched 'Media 2020' report
MediaSense: has launched 'Media 2020' report

Next year could see upheaval in the agency market in response to a trend in media transformation, MediaSense concludes after survey findings.

A majority of senior marketers believe media agency models are to blame for hindering their brand’s progress on becoming more digitally integrated and agile, a new survey by MediaSense has found.

The consultancy’s Media 2020 report, published in partnership with ISBA, found that 57% cited agency business models as having hampered their media transformation progress.

The next most frequent reasons given were “process and workflows” (53%) and “cost of services” (51%).

Because previous Media 2020 studies found a correlation between media transformation and agency model redesign, 2021 is likely to bring much upheaval in the agency market, MediaSense has concluded.

The big advertising holding groups have been reducing media agency brands in recent years as they try to simplify their operations. WPP created Wavemaker in 2017 by fusing MEC and Maxus, Publicis Groupe folded Blue 449 into Spark Foundry, while Dentsu is in the process of merging Vizeum and iProspect, having already merged several other agencies last year to form Dentsu X.

The survey also found that agencies’ strategic thinking is the most common source of progress for digital transformation. Seven in 10 marketers cited strategic thinking, followed by leadership (66%) and use of data, analytics and insight (also 66%).

The report surveys 100 global chief marketing officers and marketing directors and is meant to provide a barometer for current thinking around the media industry.

It also found that while just under-two thirds (65%) of marketers thought they had the vision and leadership for media transformation, only a minority were future-fit in key areas such as technology and systems (35%), processes and ways of working (38%), and people and skills (48%).

While Covid-19 has for some brands (30%) provided an impetus to accelerate with media transformation, just under half (45%) are pushing ahead and only a quarter have stopped or delayed initiatives.

Brand marketers also cited paid social (44%), paid search (41%) and adtech/martech (41%) as the functions they will do more of in-house when their transformation is complete. The least popular among these were offline media buying (13%) and creative/content (25%).

Ryan Kangisser, managing partner, strategy at MediaSense, said: “The study reveals some promising findings about the progress brands are making through their transformation programmes. However, as brands become more self-sufficient and agile in how they operate, they are looking to their agencies to complement more closely their model and provide the supplementary capabilities which help them to deliver growth. Against the backdrop of Covid-19, this desire will only grow stronger."

Start Your Free 30-Day Free Trial

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to, plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events.

Become a subscriber


Don’t miss your daily fix of breaking news, latest work, advice and commentary.

register free