Code Worldwide

The Agencies Strike Back

Matt McNeany

Matt McNeany

Founder and Chief Executive Officer

There's a great article on Adage following up a story we covered about IT Consultants encroaching onto the territory previously 'owned' by Agencies. It seems the Agencies are fighting back – which is good to see. 

yeah, sure, of course I cleared this with George[/caption] Anything that helps build the Marketing Technology space (

eah, sure, of course I cleared this with George[/caption] Anything that helps build the Marketing Technology space (or Creative Technology, as we call it) is great news for the Advertising and Marketing industry.

It’s getting crowded

In terms of players who are now talking about the space between Brand, Tech and Data, the Adage article cites Deloitte launching Deloitte Digital, who will: will handle strategy, creative, user experience, engineering and implementation services for marketers in digital channels.

Then on the Agency side, we've got Omnicom's well-established Annalect division, WPP's Fabric partnering with Infosys to create their BrandEdge platform and, in the case of Razorfish and the their 'Fluent' software suite, an Agency network extending out its own Tech capabilities. So it’s all go, then.

Moving Creative Technology forward

Clearly each of these offerings (and indeed our own) will define the space and the Client problems they solve in different ways. But it's fascinating to see the same themes and observations emerging. It's also great to see contrasting views on the best way to help Clients through this ongoing revolution. Illustrating this contrast, the article contained two Agency quotes that really stood out – one I agree with, another I’m surprised at. Firstly, the CEO of Fluent, Drew Kurth, said:

We're an agency – we think like an agency and are able to communicate that perspective to the [Fluent] development team… Infosys or Accenture might not have that... When it comes to marketing it's such a different animal than IT. At its core it's a creative endeavor.

This is so true. The rhythm and approach of a software design business are undoubtedly different to those used by a Marketing Agency. In fact, we talk a lot about ‘the speed of Marketing… with the rigour of IT’ and it’s a tough nut to crack. Creating a culture where software people really understand, love and respect the pace and nuances of the creative process is an ongoing challenge. Certainly anyone who’s ever asked their dev. team to help price a vague brief in 45 minutes because the Client’s ‘going into a meeting at 2pm’ will know what I mean.

Clients are embracing licensing and IP A second quote really raised my eyebrows as it strikes at the heart of what

A second quote really raised my eyebrows as it strikes at the heart of what should be enticing ‘traditional’ Agencies into fully embrace Technology (i.e. platforms, not just Tech-powered campaigns). SapientNitro's VP-content and collaboration, Dan Barnicle, is quoted as saying:

Our experience is that marketers don't want to buy [software licenses]

Now that’s interesting. Obviously I respect their experience, but it certainly doesn’t match ours. In fact, Clients often recognise the commercial model before we raise it. As Code’s CEO, Matt McNeany, said last week at the IPA’s Creative Pioneers Conference:Clients

Clients are getting really good at this stuff.

Matt was making the point that Clients are now more advanced than many Agencies. They recognise the shift from campaigns to platforms and they think about spend in this space as infrastructure. So our experience is that Clients fully understand that they are buying IP. And they get that this needs to be bought via licenses according to usage – be that by territory, by time, by function, whatever. In fact, much of what Code delivers is on a licence basis. Which is why Agencies are so keen to understand how we help them make money from IP, and why we partner with them so well.

Making it up as we go along (in a good way)

It’s probably fair to say that all of the businesses mentioned here will have umpteen stories and observations that corroborate and contradict one another’s. Unpicking them is what makes it great fun to grab a drink with your peers to chew the fat. And certainly while the pie is growing for everyone, helping define the rules of the game is yet another good reason to be in Creative Technology. See you at the bar.