Technology changes the way brands can market, but in many cases industry structure in the advertising agency world is acting as an impediment to change.

Where once TV advertising agencies could slap together a report looking at traffic numbers, TV categories and wait for the dollars to roll in, the advent of new technical platforms are blending together sales and marketing, shifting the expectations of clients.

Ben Sharp, VP and Managing Director of AdRoll

“The role of an agency now is so difficult because they’ve got to be experts in content, experts in technology, experts in a whole range of different things,” said Ben Sharp, VP and Managing Director of AdRoll in Asia Pacific, a retargeting and prospecting platform.

“And they can’t do it so you find more and more people like us are going to direct to customers and educating them, which is what’s right.”

Advertising agencies with a hope of retaining and building clients in this new world are reorganising their very business models. Rather than individual TV teams, mobile teams and desktop teams, successful agencies are developing a multi-layered approach where the firm is across all the various platforms and how they interact with each other.

“We’re seeing some of the agencies that we align really closely with restructure their business so they’re not planning in silos anymore,” says Danni Brown, marketing manager at TubeMogul, now part of Adobe.

“They’re more moving toward a cross-screening type approach.”

Danni Brown marketing manager at TubeMogul

Late last year Which-50 gathered leaders from a dozen leading marketing and advertising technology vendors for a round table discussion on the outlook for 2017. Comments in this story are drawn from those discussions.

The panel of experts agreed the old ways of wining and dining clients are over and customers are demanding a high level of transparency when it comes to their advertising dollars.

“You can see that in the United States and the United Kingdom,” said Stephen De Blic, commercial director at Integral Ad Science.

“The market is trying to push the agencies to be more transparent and see digital as one piece.”

Rather than offer a media solution that is just content or context based, customers want to see a cohesive strategy that implements the far-reaching and dynamic components of emerging platforms and cutting-edge technology.

The rise of digital video has TV networks planning for a future where, instead of only accounting for 10 per cent of overall revenue, video will balloon to be a much big money earner.

But before that happens, people need training in how to extract meaning from the various integrated platforms which are designed to provide predictive and prescriptive insight.

The onslaught of data available at the fingertips of advertisers means employees are required to sift through the noise and identify particular patterns and trends that will enhance the decision making of future TV broadcasters.

“It’s probably the biggest challenge that we and companies like TubeMogul face,” said Peter Ostick, vice president of the Asia-Pacific region at Tremor Video, a video marketplace for brands.

“People are supposed to be digitally savvy, they need to understand the automation piece and they need to understand the data piece, and finding those people, even in the digital space, is really hard,” he says.

But the experts agree, those agencies looking to evolve their workplaces now in order to deal with the demanding new set of digital skills have a better chance of surviving in the future.

“It’s really a kind of testing ground for the moment, the digital space,” said Ostick. “But when this goes really big, and we’re talking about almost 100 per cent of all their revenues fall in [digital video] space in the next 5 to 10 years, they’ll be set up. At the moment, the agencies are kind of going through the pain points of getting those skills.”

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