Innovation positions agencies on top

Direct Marketing News spoke with Nick Moore, chief creative officer and EVP of Wunderman, about the trends he sees on the horizon for agencies as they move into the new year.

Q: Is the agency/client relationship going to change in 2012, and if so, how do you see it evolving?

A: Yes and no. No, it’s not going to change because I think the basic pressures that clients are feeling in terms of their own performance and deliverables are going to remain the same. Marketing organizations are going to continue to pass their pressures to agency partners. What is changing is the way that the communications landscape is working. Clients are taking a more open-minded approach as to [which agencies are] taking the lead with branding, projects and entire campaigns. I think it’s going to be far more open than in the past. 

Q: What will agencies need to do to adapt to continue meeting the demands of clients?

A:I think the pressures of ‘faster, cheaper and better’ are not going away. I think that agencies will have to really step up and deliver in the area of innovation. The idea that you can do the same things in 2012 as you did 18 months ago is not going to make most clients comfortable. There’s huge pressure to innovate, and [for agencies to] show how they can create integrated solutions across all touchpoints.  

Q: Many major marketers are doing reviews and/or consolidating agency contracts. Will this trend continue in the next year?

A: I think the answer to that is yes, and I think there’s a lot of column inches and pixels and time and sound devoted to this, but it boils down to two key trends: better value and innovation. I think because the landscape that we operate in is so dynamic and clients need a level of innovation in spaces like social media … They quite rightly look to agency partners for sources of innovation. 

Q: What are some of the most important capabilities agencies need to meet demand? Is creative the most important thing? Analytics?

A: The most important thing is to have it all. That sounds facetious and silly, but it’s really not. I think the idea of just having creative without a focus on business outcome and analytics just doesn’t work anymore. 

Q: How important will digital be over the next year, and how do you think this will impact direct mail?

A: It is going to grow in importance, but no, it’s not going to kill direct mail, any more than TV killed radio. New media tends to be additive, rather than replace new media. Direct mail is becoming very expensive, however. Therefore, the requirement to get better results I think will continue to lead to better targeting. 

Q: What do you feel are the biggest trends we’ll see in the new year?

A: I think people are coming back to the power of the idea. I think that a lot of marketing technologies are kind of like an arms race. If we’ve got the same or similar optimization technologies, we’re all going to more or less end up in the same place.

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