Ad agencies getting bigger does not mean things will be better for clients

payattentionannarbor0312hd.182_320_200_sThe news of the Publicis/Omnicom merger last week was perhaps the opening act in what might be a series of advertising agency consolidations.   The number one reason Mr. Levy of Publicis and Mr. Wren of Omnicom gave for the merger was the efficiency gains that will be realized by the combined buying power – savings that would be passed on to clients.  Operationally it was also noted that the combined savings would amount to nearly a half billion dollars.   Yes some employees will lose their jobs and the combined company will have fewer employees than exist currently on an aggregate basis.

While there are obvious financial efficiencies, my partner David Adelman posed last week that this merger will not be beneficial to clients and I could not agree more.  From my perspective what clients will NOT receive in this merger is better strategic thinking.   For a small marketing services agency like ours the news of the Publicis/Omnicom merger was music to our ears.   Media buying efficiency is important and the market is changing rapidly with the increasing popularity of media agency trading desks.   But this merger would suggest that it’s all about lowering media costs and as we all know the most expensive media that exists is the media that does not work – even if it is purchased at lower than normal market prices.

We recommend digital media plans every day.  Sometimes those plans are stand-alone, other times those plans can be part of a broader media plan that might include broadcast, cable television, and OOH units (just to list a few).   What has emerged as a critical aspect of digital media buying is its relationship to the associated creative and links to a deeper customer or prospect experience.

Digital media impressions are worthwhile and clicks even more so, but it’s most important to have a fully integrated plan including creative for the ads, a microsite or landing page and any associated assets (survey, contest etc.).    This may seem obvious but more often than not we find that advertisers are not acting in this fashion.   It’s fine to have the in-house team build things but their involvement in helping build an integrated prospect/customer experience should be integrated from the outset.   Plugging in or bolting-on the digital media buy after the microsite has been developed inhibits the reading of real-time results and just makes things more complicated and less integrated.

Bigger and bigger ad agencies will not be as concerned with fully integrated media plans as they are with driving revenue numbers in order to meet Wall Street expectations.   Do you think that will really make it better for clients?

About markkolier

Futurist, entrepreneur, left lane driver, baseball lover
This entry was posted in Advertising, Best business practices, Brand Advertising, Customer Experiences, Digital media, Media and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Ad agencies getting bigger does not mean things will be better for clients

  1. Giants like to work with Giants! So that will be their focus market. However, the world issue up of smaller to mid sized firms who need someone to sit at the table and understand their current needs. They need a partner who gives them the attention they need. Many companies build a long term plan with significant budgetary limitations. Good partners have the patience to work with these companies as they grow their operations and build the infrastructure capable of handling effective digital marketing plans.

    A Bigger partner would not likely be better for my company!


    • markkolier says:

      Thanks David – in our view it all comes down to who’s doing the overall strategic thinking and the ability of the team to consider the widening marketing channels.


      • While that is true about who’s doing the strategy being important a major problem is the disconnection between strategy and execution. These agencies have “buyers” who are not on the same page with the strategists.


  2. Mark, I couldn’t agree with you more. Having worked at one of the largest holding companies I can also tell you there is no collaboration for integrated marketing campaigns that is driven internally. I’ve only seen it work at big shops when clients drive the process and play traffic cop every day. While it’s great to have a client desiring integration and collaboration this is not the way it should work. The agency should be driving it.


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