In the last few months, the IAS (Independent Agency Search & Selection Company) has conducted a variety of specialist pitches for marketers, other than the typical integrated advertising agency pitch that tends to dominate the pitching landscape. This trend is set to continue.
While marketers would love to find all their needs satisfied in one agency group, they know that it is not possible within the ever-fragmenting marketing communications landscape and so the demand for specialisation is increasing. This is a worldwide trend, according to results from AGENCY SCOPE studies in a number of countries where SCOPEN operates.
Recent examples of such specialisation include business to business (B2B) advertising and communication, shopper marketing, B2B PR, and branded content (digital). The recent specialist pitches emanate from large, listed FMCG and healthcare groups.
We are also involved in a large pitch process for one of the most important South African government institutions where eight different types of specialist agency skills will be required. While several of these might be available at one agency group, it may well happen that a variety of different agencies with the distinct and in-depth skills will be appointed.
The IAS believes this trend creates a significant opportunity for marketers and agencies alike and is anticipating the growth of a few more specialist areas this year – especially in the area of digital.
There is no such thing as a digital agency that just does banners on websites any more. Within digital there are several areas that have opened up and continue to develop, as the future unfolds, creating lots of new opportunity for smaller, specialist agency players.
As long as agencies define their distinct positioning clearly and are not afraid to stick to their guns with the type of work that they specialise in, there will be more and more opportunities as marketers see the potential growth that these agencies could bring to their brands and services.
While there will always be a role for the integrated advertising agency – especially those who have had the foresight to bring media planning and buying back into the creative agency arena – anecdotal evidence via pitches, coupled with empirical evidence from SCOPEN, indicates that agency specialisation is on the increase.
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