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    The Downfall of Traditional Agencies – Part 2 – Technology and Early Adopters

    Abigail van Zyl / 12th Nov 2018 / Business

    I have a son who is two-years-old. Recently, he discovered how to split screen YouTube on my iPad, a function I didn’t even know existed – did you?

    The introduction of technology has played such a huge roll in the downfall of traditional agency structures. The increase in hiring of early tech adopters has had an enormous impact in most businesses, but especially in agencies. Where client service professionals and project managers spent hours manually updating a status document, or planning a large website build, the early adopters introduced automation software to do this for them. So many traditional agencies have battled tirelessly to integrate the new systems; I know a few digital agencies who still manually print job bags.

    The inability to change these processes, and push back when advised to, is why many traditional agencies are battling to evolve. These new systems help to speed-up internal processes, and a faster delivery time means a happier clients. No one wants to wait one week for a product to be delivered, so why is it ok for your agency to take longer to deliver services. This is where new kids on the block are swooping in as they are able to deliver faster services because most of their newly structure process are automated making them more efficient. Below is a comparison of how a traditional agency manages a job internally vs how the more forward-thinking agencies would manage it. For this example, let’s say the client has briefed in a digital banner for a website, included in a retainer.

    Traditional Agency


    • Client service person meets with the client to take a brief on a job;
    • Client service person gets back to the agency, creates a job bag;
    • Client service person liaises with the creative team on the thinking around the job;
    • Client service person writes a brief;
    • Client service person sends a brief to the client with deadlines;
    • The client gives feedback/approves the brief and agrees/does not agree to deadlines;
    • Client service person briefs the whole team with agreed-to deadlines;
    • Copywriter suggests 3 pieces of copy for said banner;
    • Head of content gives feedback/approves;
    • The creative director provides feedback and approves;
    • The designer is given the copy and creates a banner;
    • The creative director gives feedback/approves;
    • Client service ensure deliverable is as per client brief;
    • Client service sends artwork to the client for approval;
    • The client provides feedback/approves;
    • Client services re-briefs changes;
    • Changes are made;
    • The creative director gives feedback/approves;
    • Client service sends back to the client;
    • Hopefully, by this stage there is an approval.

    New Agency / Progressive Agency


    • Client service person meets with the client to take a brief on a job;
    • Client service adds job onto project management/job management software, along with the brief and assigns the creative team members to the job, this sends all people involved an email with the brief and adds deadlines to their calendars, some even include the client themselves for reviewing purposes.
    • On the system, feedback is given from the creative team on the thinking around the job
    • The creative team work together to put together creative that has great copy and aligned artwork
    • The artwork is sent to the client, client briefs changes into the system
    • Changes are made
    • Hopefully, by this stage there is an approval.

    *In new agencies, creative directors do not approve EVERY piece of creative that comes out of the studio, they and the strategists are involved at a much higher level and to be honest have better things to do with their time.

    Adding to this, agencies who are able to increase efficiencies in their processes are able to charge less for jobs – making them more efficient and cost-effective.

    The above refers specifically to the automation of internal processes in agencies, which I think is one of the biggest things that slows down the delivery of a job, which over time will become one of the reasons a client will fire an agency. There are other tech advances that make agencies more efficient such as time-recording as you work (instead of spending hours manually updating timesheets), and operational tasks are being made more efficient with the help of AI. This will never take jobs away from people but the ability of a machine to assist with operational tasks greatly reduces time-spent,  thereby increasing profits and efficiencies within agencies.

    The failure to integrate these types of technologies has a big impact on the work-hard-play-hard mentality of traditional agencies. When so much time is wasted on processes, creativity is affected, making traditional agencies a more difficult, less desirable place to work in, especially for creatives who are expected to work hard.