For all the troubling headlines facing some of the media agency giants, many independent media agencies are thriving. At Decisions 20/20, a recent advertising industry association event convened by the 4A’s, Jeff Larson, president of independent media shop Mediassociates, presented an optimistic picture of the future. “Independent agencies have been the beneficiaries of a lot of the disruption in our industry,” said Larson. “There’s a fundamental lack of trust between many brands and their agency partners which is not a healthy way to build a relationship.”
When asked why he thought the independent media agencies are well positioned in the marketplace, Larson shared three core needs among brands that these agencies are best positioned to deliver:
1. Agility – As brands demand a more nimble approach to the market, independent shops are unencumbered with the old agency models which focused on scale. Larson stated, “Brands want agile partners who can pivot quickly to take advantage of the fast-changing marketplace. New tools for today’s audience-centric approach to media activation and measurement are constantly evolving. Not being tethered to legacy structures, tools, and capabilities enables independent agencies to adapt more quickly to the needs of their clients.”
2. Creativity – At the 4A’s forum, there was much discussion around the importance of creativity in the media conversation. Larson observed that, “Working with high growth and challenger brands, there’s a greater appetite to test and expand new media approaches.” There’s often a greater tolerance to take risks and experiment; which requires a creative, test and learn approach. “Independent agencies are in this sweet spot with middle market brands looking for strong media planning and buying capabilities coupled with a more entrepreneurial spirit”, he added.
3. Transparency – The best relationships between brands and their agencies are built on trust. Larson made the case that independent agencies are at an advantage in offering a simple, open, and fully transparent partnership model. “As the holding companies have been embroiled in transparency questions that have eroded trust, the independent shops have been able to stay focused on what matters most to clients – helping them deliver business impact from their media investment.” Larson continued, “with independence comes a simple, transparent approach to the client relationship. Our only interest is what’s in the client’s best interest.”
Larson’s thoughts stood in stark contrast to the challenges of the large global agencies. “There’s never been a better time to be a strategic, independent media agency. Brands are looking for authentic relationships built on trust and transparency. We continue to be optimistic about the future and Mediassociates’ ability to help our clients reach their business goals.”