This article is co-authored by Jahn Wolland. In today’s highly segmented and overly saturated market, creativity and innovation are critical in driving success for brands, and the advertising experts that help guide their efforts can ultimately make or break the bottom line. This kind of expertise has been especially important when it comes to collecting, understanding, and actioning against the exorbitant amount of consumer data available, which continues to overwhelm many marketers lacking the right tools.
Holding and big-name agencies and consulting firms at one point dominated the media buying space with their decades of experience, deep-rooted relationships, and access to Big Data and Analytics technology – the emergence and growth of independent and smaller shops have challenged their long-standing reign, proving that size doesn’t always have to equate to definitive success.
In the face of an ever-evolving advertising world and shifting media models, many independent agencies have similarly not gone without conflict. In order to compete, independent agencies have also had to introduce new strategies to stay competitive and differentiated from others, even though they typically have fewer resources and inherently smaller budgets to do so.
For some, leveraging new kinds of partnerships has elevated their capabilities and has positioned them at the top of the pack. By combining forces with innovative media companies, independents can immediately tap into new resources and gain access to advanced analytics, rich data, and insights they otherwise wouldn’t have – offering clients the right solutions they need without incurring the large expense from big agencies or of bringing operations in-house.
In fact, the benefits of working with an independent agency that has bolstered its capabilities through these outside partnerships are trifold:
1. Strength in Agility, Power in Data
Conflicting internal objectives and numerous layers can often hold industry giants back whereas independents and their partners have the luxury of more freedom to make decisions quickly and swiftly execute against them. The agility from both sides – combined with the outsourced engineering and technology expertise from media partners – allows for more effective collaboration, tackling client pain points and developing new solutions in a much shorter timeframe.
This kind of autonomy and nimbleness also holds true when it comes to funding. Depending on client needs, smaller agencies and their partners can divert resources where necessary, investing in building the product or solution and expediting the process to allocate budget behind it. Decisions like these can become much trickier when shareholders and other stakeholders are involved.
With independents and media partnerships also rooted in data, insights, and a singular focus on outcomes, it’s much easier to extrapolate those insights and actions against them. Having the right data to support and inform the development of real products quickly, can make all the difference in the world when it comes to results.
2. The Ability to Scale
There’s still a stigma that independents are just too limited in resources and are unable to scale like their legacy brethren, but many independents have proven the opposite to be true. In fact, the speed and nimbleness they offer, combined with the creativity and expertise from innovative strategic partners has allowed independent agencies to offer personalized service to a boutique shop while executing with a big agency toolkit – capable of driving outsized results for brands.
3. An Extension of the Team
One of the most beneficial elements of partnering with an independent agency is that their size allows for much deeper, committed relationships to media and tech partners and their respective clients. This less “quid-pro-quo” and more transparent, two-way street approach cultivates a stronger relationship for collaboration, creativity, and ideation, which can further open new opportunities and strengthen their position as reliant advisors.
In the face of market shifts, budget cuts, and the challenge for smarter advertising, the ability to serve as a dynamic extension of a Marketing team has strengthened independents’ position as wholly dedicated, trusted advisors. Being deeply embedded as partners invested in mutual success allows for fresh, new ideas – the possibilities for innovation become endless.
While there’s no denying that the media and advertising industries are in flux and the agency of the future is still a hot debate, the promise of new opportunities for agile, strategic, and creative independent agencies still holds true. Those that differentiate data and insights to drive business transformation will be positioned to drive the best results long term.
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