Last week an art director friend of mine were talking about the future of advertising agencies. Specifically, we were discussing how things like crowdsourcing via sites like crowdSPRING.com (an online marketplace for creative services) and the offering from the SF based tech startup Sprout (a platform that gives the average Joe the ability create his own flash pieces, such as banner ads and websites) are dramatically changing the client/agency relationship. And by changing the client/agency relationship, I mean potentially eliminating the need for agencies at all. crowdSPRING is a more dramatic game changer as its model essentially bypasses the need for an agency organization altogether where Sprout makes less of an impact since it’s really just a platform that creatives may actually use within an agency.
Ultimately, as creative becomes more accessible and less of an exclusive agency offering, agencies will need to prove their worth in other ways. I offered that the greatest value that an agency can provide, one that remains an exclusive offering, is brand strategy. Sure, sure maybe I’m biased. But it’s the one missing element in this DIY creative model. There’s great creative available on crowdSPRING, but what drove that creative? Creative for creativity’s sake is simply art. Only when the creative is rooted in consumer insights does it become persuasive communication, i.e. Advertising.
Coincidentally, these very sentiments were echoed in a recent article on AdWeek.com. Regarding agency payment structure, the article states “there might be a new emphasis on strategic insights versus time sheets and production costs.” And on creative, Michael Lebowitz, CEO of Big Spaceship adds, "the bells and whistles for bells and whistles sake feels very Web 1.0."
In my opinion this is great news for strategists. And frankly in today’s climate of agency closures and hiring freezes, some good news is quite welcomed.