Carat CEO Martin Cass argued that consumer understanding will increasingly be the key value-add of agencies. "You're going to see agencies much more focused on consumers and what motivates and drives them," he said. Providing that kind of deep expertise in market research will keep agencies relevant.
Antony Young, CEO, Optimedia International U.S., agreed, acknowledged that it's impossible for agencies to keep up with the proliferation of devices and platforms from the iPad to Twitter, but said agencies can still find a useful role in providing market insights and strategy consulting for clients.
Andrew McLean, chief development officer, GroupM, however, noted that while the human capital agencies bring to bear will remain key to their survival, ad firms aren't doing enough to recruit and train the next generation of talent. "We are not training the next generation of market leadership," he said. "It's going to be beholden on whole industry to collectively address this issue."