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Guest Column: The comeback of full-service agencies in India

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By 2020, we will be close to a billion digitised screens. With the advent of cheaper data and smartphones and by virtue of tech giants such as Google, Facebook and Amazon entering the grassroots of India, digitisation has become inevitable. And it’s going to be mobile plus digitised television (OTT) that’s going to drive most of the scale.

If digital is where maximum content is going to be consumed, surpassing Dish/Cable TV in most geographies, then brands will slowly and steadily move towards exploring digital in a much-evolved fashion and at a large scale. This means media and creative agencies will have to rethink their game plan, which has not changed much in the past two to three decades. Many questions arise, such as will mainline agencies reverse integrate their creative and media thinking to digital? Will digital agencies be able to manage the scale and responsibilities of managing multi-million-dollar campaigns? Will there be a need of creative and media standardisation? How many agencies will a client want to deal with to achieve the end objective? Who will win the rat race? And the list goes on, as we start thinking about how agency life will be when digitisation takes over completely.

In my view, consolidation to make a full-service agency that gives solutions across screens plus creative and media is going to be the future. To date, most agencies are not fully prepared to manage this new world of ‘non-line,’ that is not just online or only offline but both together, as the lines are starting to fade. Mainline and digital agencies are poles apart in creative as well as media thinking but both are eventually chasing one goal. And that’s where the need of a full-service agency is, which creates and advertises one campaign with one objective across multiple platforms and formats. Not to ignore the fact that advertising bodies will also play an equal role in the entire standardisation process. And, sooner or later, it’s a self-evolving cycle that we will all get into, like the one mentioned below-

1)  Consumers will become more and more digitised; thus, brands will want to get them through digital mediums across mobiles, TVs, PCs, tablets, and even hoardings

2)   One master creative created in various sizes and formats will start to be the new norm with a fair bit of shoulder content for digital

3)   And then planning will get more standardised across various mediums and consolidate into one form

4)   KPIs will become more standardised as well to judge campaign effectiveness against various brand objectives

5)   Possibly, there will be one tool that agency networks will create and connect to plan and buy across in a truly ‘non-line’ fashion

This model of a full-service agency exists in mature markets such as the US, Japan, Singapore and will soon be a reality in India as well. Such a model increases planning and operational efficiencies and also ensures standardisation, right from planning to execution to industry benchmarking.

It’s about time large agency networks wake up to the reality of a full-service model or soon a challenger start-up that is nimble to take such decisions will start changing the name of the game!

The author is VP operations & media - West & South, WATConsult. The views expressed are personal and Indiantelevision.com may not subscribe to them.

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