Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Johanna McDowell, CEO of the Independent Agency Search and Selection Summit (IAS), recently returned from the 15th AdForum Worldwide Summit in New York. Invitations to attend the summit are extended to intermediaries such as the IAS, as well as to pitch consultants and agency advisers, in addition to smaller consultative companies working with clients and ad agencies.

One of the biggest trends coming out of the summit this year, reports McDowell, was the move towards agencies having their own in-house production studios. “This is an interesting move given that we saw the same thing happening around 30 years ago; and now we’re back there,” she says. Considering the advantages of in-house production, including speed of delivery, accuracy of brief and messaging, cost efficiency and the fact that it provides an additional revenue stream for agencies, it’s a trend that makes perfect sense, she says.

A number of local agencies are already offering in-house production as a service to their clients and McDowell predicts that those who do not move in this direction soon will be left behind. As an example, she says New York-based full digital agency R/GA has an entire floor of studios on its premises. Many clients prefer this option, she says, as it means the agency is in control of both input and output.

Content production is another trend remaining at the forefront. She says agencies that provide above-the-line, below-the-line, digital and PR services to their clients are well positioned for growth. She admits, however, that not all clients are willing to work this way. But while an integrated offering is not a prerequisite at pitches, it has proved to be a winning formula.

International agencies, says McDowell, are starting to use a more consultative, business-orientated approach with their clients, as opposed to solely making ads. Larger players such as Ogilvy, BBDO and others are still producing great adverting and content, while at the same time advising on business transformation. “These agencies have also succeeded in understanding the role technology can play in enhancing business and helping processes. Agencies that provide a business solution for their clients can charge a higher consulting fee,” she says. 

Delegates to this year’s AdForum Worldwide Summit were exposed to a number of new trends, including better ways of delivering more successful outcomes. Social media, McDowell says, has made so many things possible that simply would not have been viable before, such as crowd-sourced creative work, another trend evidenced at the summit.

The big take-out: At the recent AdForum Worldwide Summit in New York, IAS’s Johanna McDowell observed trends such as in-house production and agencies taking on a more consultative role in terms of business transformation.

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