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The future of the integrated agency is more, err, integration

MOI’s Caroline Lotinga and Alex Sandoval discuss the benefits and future of integrated agencies.

In the marketing world, things have traditionally gone from creative, to media, and then to market. Finally, the results go back to creative for further optimisation. And that’s before digital agencies fragment things even more – because when a client works with a digital agency, they’ll often have to work with a creative agency too. 

“This model has been such a drawn-out process,” says Caroline Lotinga, MOI’s business director for EMEA. “The three-way communication between media, creative and client is so inefficient.”

We need more integration, not less

Agency-client relationships

need to become less convoluted, so the future of the integrated agency is going to be all about, well, integration. There’ll be one agency where data, planning and execution go hand-in-hand. Full-service agencies need to have the capabilities for everything to flow smoothly through planning, strategy, creative, execution and delivery.

Some clients may say they don’t want a ‘jack-of-all-trades’, but as MOI’s global strategy director Alex Sandoval says, if you want to nail the customer experience and customer journey, “integrated is the only kind of agency that’ll give the end-to-end consistency you need.”

What came first?

Full integration removes the chicken-and-egg scenario that working with multiple agencies gives you, but agencies need to actually integrate with the client. 

“It’s not just about collaboration,” says Caroline, “but actual integration with their

people, processes and systems.

An agency’s planners need to talk directly to the client’s planners, the agency’s creatives need to talk to the client’s creatives, and so on.” 

You need to be fully measurable so you can integrate results into everything too. Clients need real-time visibility to be able to go into any dashboard and see how things stand. That’s especially true in B2B, where relationships are based so much on ROI generation. 

Master of all

The standard jack-of-all-trades approach implies no agency can be expert in everything, but that’s not true. An integrated agency can still serve all the different needs of its clients, with agility and scale.

“An agency needs a core group of strategists who can tap into a network of specialists,” says Alex. “They need to build an ecosystem of partners where you can get skills based on the needs of a client.”

And it’s not as if the skills aren’t out there. You can work with people who are based anywhere in the world now, letting you tap into global talent based on ability rather than location. Clients are becoming way more flexible on this too. 

Closing the loop

The future model of the integrated agency is about taking all these separate steps and processes, and closing the loop so we can deliver 360-degree customer journeys that incorporate different stakeholders and platforms, online and offline. 

Most integrated agencies have a creative heritage, but true creativity is about solutions, not just pretty pictures. With an increasingly integrated approach, we can use data to join up all the touchpoints with creativity.

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