Reimagining media agencies

A fascinating discussion during the recently concluded Goafest 2023 was about the need to reimagine the role of the media agency in a rapidly evolving communication ecosystem. Christina Moniz asks three advertising industry leaders how the traditional media agency can redefine its role to stay relevant.

Time to call ourselves growth partners

Amin Lakhani
CEO, Mindshare South Asia

Amin Lakhani

More than using the word ‘media agency’, the time has come to call ourselves growth partners. Media agencies do much more than media buying and planning today. They are expected to grow and evolve. The focus should be on staying relevant to today’s times and catering to diverse client mandates. The basic premise of being a partner to the brand has not changed but the way in which work is executed is more complex.

Media planning was once fairly simple. Over the years, we saw media grow with cable TV and entertainment channels. Finally with digital, the media space completely transformed. In this context, the media agency’s role is more significant than ever. They are creating more value, with a plethora of media touch points available.
Their role is far more strategic today, and they offer expertise for traditional, new-age and even D2C brands. There is no doubt consultancies are competing with media agencies, but media agencies remain at the forefront with their vast knowledge of brands, the media ecosystem and consumer behaviour patterns. Brands recognise the value that media agencies bring to the table, which is why we now have a seat at the table with the company leadership. Against this, it is important to review the way in which we position ourselves to brands. A new definition will give the media agency fresh perspective

It is much better to use the term ‘integrated media conglomerate’

Rammohan Sundaram
President, Integrated Media, DDB Mudra Group

Rammohan Sundaram

There is no idea that can see the light of day without media. Without the power of distribution, there can never be a campaign, which is the reason the word ‘media’ simply cannot vanish, whether you call it an agency or something else. However, with the advent of digital video and CTV, it is becoming difficult for any TV plan to not have these in their media mix. That is why we use the term ‘integrated media’ at DDB Mudra. We decided to have an integrated media team that works on mediums that get major budgets. I would call it an integrated media conglomerate.

New-age consultancies are not a big threat to agencies because the reasoning behind any media plan has a basis and analysis built on common data available to everyone. The trick is how you perceive it.

In digital, there are agencies who have their own transparent trading desk like we do at DDB and this, when extended to other media vehicles, can become potent for a client when allocating budgets. Media budgets get their value for money based on methodologies deployed but there is a lot of room to optimise, something that will only happen with the adoption of technology.

Agencies are now shouldering the role of a polymath

Monaz Todywalla
CEO, PHD India

Monaz Todywalla

a media agency’s position is no longer relegated to the domain of planning and buying. New frontiers of tech and digital-enabled growth have shaped their role to that of curator, arbiter and confidant.

The nature of the business has seen a metamorphosis. Omnicom Media Group network’s creative, content and tech disciplines enable us to play a more critical role in a brand’s story. A great example of this would be the recent partnership we’ve facilitated for our client HSBC with Virat Kohli. The move involved taking a long view of sustained brand building, one that is rooted in long-term equity and profitability rather than a one-off engagement or vanity metrics. Media agencies are now shouldering the role of a polymath, helping clients make the leap into the future. Coining this into a single term goes beyond being “integrated”.

Just as new-age consultancies are edging into the media space, one could argue that media agencies too have gone on to capitalise on their creative strengths.

Agencies today are reimagining structures faster than ever before. That said, if the marketing end of a client team continues to operate in siloes, no amount of structural agency shifts will bear fruit.

Industry talks about the need to reimagine the role of the media agency in a rapidly evolving communication ecosystem. 

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