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Are Consultants The New Agencies?


Are Consultants The New Agencies?

By Hussam ElHage

I am revisiting this article a year after I initially wrote it. Originally, I was going to discuss the new entrants to the advertising world; consulting firms. But now, they’re already here!

Let me begin by saying that during my time working within media agencies, Accenture and other firms on a global level; were receiving from us, media buying sheets that reflected information such as the channels, the networks, the buying types and results of programmatic media spends.

What seems like a quarterly routine, is of  significance for the practice for consultants: it helps them learn and realize the gaps within the agency model.

My two cents is that the way forward sits in a mesh of consultancy and media agencies. Oracle, Adobe and SalesForce have been adept at the technical implementation of CRM, analytical platforms, cloud solutions and marketing solutions but they lack in media buying.

But also, agencies, who are media buying experts lack in the implementation of the aforementioned tools.

So my question is that why don’t agencies become implementers of marketing and CRM tools? They can go fully transparent on media buying and move away from an agency fee model. They could introduce a retainer instead. The money making model can switch from arbitrage and fees to hourly rates on implementation and usage of tools. That’s a thought!

Accenture was quick on the trigger:

After opening its programmatic arm in 2018, the company’s statement was clear: we have seen the agency practices in programmatic buying and we want a piece!

I believe that of all the firms out there, Accenture has been bold enough to make the first big moves.

Fast forward to 2019, Accenture made another big move through the acquisition of Droga5. In our region, Droga5 hasn’t made a name compared to the Big 4 (Omnicom, IPG, Publicis and WPP) but in London and the US it is a big contender in the creative agency world.

Agencies’ main defense against the onslaught of consultants was the wall of “creative thinking”; but now that wall has been knocked down. What agencies don’t realize, is that the dynamic is changing and the industry they once knew will shift completely. The fixation on media arbitrage and sticking to their programmatic guns will surely be their biggest weakness when once it was the greatest source of income.

Accenture, still consultant heavy, is moving into the agency game but has to bring in all the tools to achieve a 360 solution. They are sales force as well as marketing cloud implementers; they even have their own Accenture DMP.

With the success of Accenture, the question becomes whether other consultants will enter this game? What about data providers such as Oracle entering the media buying world? They do possess a plethora of marketing cloud solutions as well as CRM.  Why can they not only implement but also offer a media buying solution as well? I believe that their understanding of data far outweighs the rest, as this has been their domain for decades.

You know what, who will follow Accenture into this new generation of media?  How long can agencies hold on before changing?

So many questions are looming over  my mind while writing this article.  This trend is unprecedented to us all.

May be only the future can tell us what is in store for this rapidly changing industry.

Hussam ElHage is the Digital Marketing Manager  at Arabian Automobile. Opinions expressed in this article belongs to the author. 

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