How will AI Change the Agency Landscape?

How will AI Change the Agency Landscape?

It’s entirely conceivable that someday the Academy Award for Best Picture will go to a film that was conceived, written and produced by artificial intelligence. Before that happens, we anticipate some lesser creative institutions than the cinema will find their reasons for being challenged by AI.

Topping this list is the advertising agency. While the boozy brilliance of the Don Draper era may be a relic, the modern ad agency still matters. And it matters because advertising remains opaque. Brands do not quite know what to do in an environment that lacks transparency, so they continue to rely on agencies to tell them how to deploy their marketing dollars.

Just imagine, however, what would happen to agencies in an environment of full attribution. Today, marketers have at best last touch attribution. We understand where a consumer fills out a form, for example, but we have no clear sense of what content contributed along the way to nudge the consumer down the path to conversion.

Did a video viewed on Facebook about a plant based protein powder in April lead a consumer to do a Google search in May which led them to read an article for a deeper dive on the merits of plant based vs dairy based protein powders. Then in June, they go directly to the  the company’s website and ordered a jar of the powder.

Now, all the marketer knows is that they purchased the powder in June. They have no idea what happened in April and May to nurture that consumer along the path to purchase.

Full Attribution Empowers Brands

With the right tools in place (for example, using Metricsflow’s unique DNA identifier technology), the marketer will now be able to see this content consumption path over an extended period of time and across multiple platforms.

This is known as full attribution, which until the deployment of the Metricsflow AI SaaS tool, was not available to marketers.  Metricsflow’s ability to accurately identify, track and learn from a visitors content consumption, across platforms and devices, without ever placing any code on their device changes everything.

Marketers can, using the brute force and poetry of AI, precisely understand what ads, keywords, content and platforms lead to the desired visitor behavior.  With this knowledge you will know which pieces of content to deploy, where and when, in order to drive a consistent result.

This will represent a fundamental shift in the balance of power between the brand and the agency.

Today, a brand will approach its agency and ask for a proposal on how to achieve a marketing objective. The agency then takes it’s best stab at putting together a campaign combining elements that they believe will work in the combination they believe will be most effective. While the process involves more than guesswork, they don’t really know what works.

In an environment of full attribution, the CMO will be able to seize the reins and direct the agency to implement a strategy they can develop because they have full visibility into what works.

The Agency as Implementer

In this scenario, the agency becomes an implementer. less a strategic partner. Implementers are interchangeable. And the implementation, increasingly, will be automated.

Which brings us back to the Academy Awards. While the level of artistry that brings us a Best Picture nominee may currently be beyond the capabilities of AI, machines’ ability to learn includes the ability to understand what is effective content and emulate the process of creating that content. This process is creating content today to a degree beyond what most of us realize.

It’s therefore conceivable that AI will conspire to squeeze today’s ad agency from two sides. From the top, it will create a level of transparency that diminishes the need for the agency as strategist. And from the bottom, automation will challenge to role of agency as content creator.

We have not reached this point yet, but we are on the verge of a transformation in the role of the agency, and it is a transformation that will largely fall to the benefit of brands. For agencies, now is an opportunity to get ahead of the curve and learn to use the technologies that deliver the type of transparency, precision and decision making knowledge that brands will demand.

An agency’s “new” value added service could empower CMO’s to confidently and accurately measure ROI across all campaign types, ensuring market leading agencies the opportunity to deliver verifiable results, consistently. In a world where everyone else is dependent on cookies, those with access to full attribution will win. 

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