Simply put, a big change is in the air as a result of all the media business currently in review. I predict one of the large consulting companies will win a media review, stealing the business away from the media agency holding companies and signaling a sea change in the landscape.
There are literally billions of dollars at play right now, with really only two possible outcomes. In possibility number 1, each major brand selects a new media agency of record, and each agency of record selected will likely just have lost some other media AOR relationship. Possibility 1 is like a massive dollar game of musical chairs where no chairs are removed and everyone gets a seat when the music stops.
Possibility number 2 is when real change takes place: One of the large, traditional consulting companies like Accenture, Deloitte, PwC or one of the others will win a large media AOR relationship.
Some of the people I’ve chatted with over the last few weeks think this is crazy, but I don’t. These shops are adept at working with and implementing technology to improve business processes at an enterprise level. Doesn’t that sound familiar? Most of the media business is quickly becoming integrated with technology to vastly improve the efficiency of advertising at an enterprise level. Programmatic was the first step, but data-driven methodologies are being integrated throughout, with the obvious next step being the integration into television advertising. This means the lion’s share of companies’ marketing budgets will be run and managed through technology. Who better to manage these systems than the consulting shops that traditionally did so throughout the rest of the organization?
Let’s face it: Media buying is not rocket science. Media buying is analytical mixed with human instinct, and in recent years it has become more and more analytical. Media buyers who manage technology are highly valued these days, and the consulting shops can hire and maintain these teams just as easily as any agency can.
Some of the consulting groups have quietly amassed media knowledge through hiring and/or acquisition under the guise of “digital strategy.” They can pitch process and function, and they can even pitch based on performance. Any intelligent brand, and especially one whose media review includes procurement in the process, would be intrigued enough to listen to a consulting group pitch. If the outcome is better performance at a more efficient cost, why wouldn’t they give it a shot? An innovative media lead at a Fortune 500 brand would look at this tactic as a way to shake things up, instead of simply selecting some holding company media agency that just lost a different piece of business -- which would effectively guarantee more of the same.
With this kind of a new player in the mix, the game of music chairs would get real, fast. When the music stops, someone would actually lose a chair, signaling true evolution in the media business.
I don’t know if any of this is going to come true, so I hesitate to call it a prediction, but if I were a betting man, this is where I would place my money. The odds are that something has to change -- after all, the only constant in the world is change -- and right now smells like the right time for someone to come along and shake things up.
What do you think?