Who takes credit as line between media and creative blurs?

By Jeremy Lee, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 19 November 2010 12:01AM

While not quite requiring us to muster all of the judgment of Solomon in deciding which media agencies were worthy of being shortlisted for this year's Campaign Media Agency of the Year, what has been interesting in the judging process has been trying to determine how much influence any agency has had on the success of any particular campaign.

Jeremy Lee: associate editor of Campaign

Jeremy Lee: associate editor of Campaign

This has been thrown into sharper relief than usual because the useful, and sometimes blunt, tool of measuring an agency's success on its relative position in the new-business league has not really come into play given how quiet or cautious, with a couple of exceptions, the year has been for the shifting sands of account wins. So, instead, we were presented with examples of work that in some instances both media and advertising agencies claimed credit for.

Of course, trying to decide just how much influence media has had on successful advertising (and vice versa) has never been an exact science but it is noticeable how much blurring there is in between what was once easily determinable as "media" and what was "creative".

Good media agencies have always been more than just about media placement - although the trading aspect does still account for the bulk of their business - but then who has taken strategic, let alone creative, primacy is sometimes proving more difficult to determine as both diversify their offerings but end up offering similar solutions.

Media agencies and advertising agencies are both moving into each other's spaces at a relentless pace and when they collide - as I believe they must - there is a strong argument that there can only be one winner.

Given that both the creative and the media disciplines have had to diversify their offerings in order to try to achieve some degree of differentiation or keep up with their competitors, let alone protect their bottom lines as other consultants have devised cunning ways to squeeze a few shekels out of an advertiser, this is not surprising.

Even though this fight will be between agencies that ultimately have shared ownership, expect it to be a fairly bitter one - no-one wants to cede ground.

So what will be the deciding factors? Aside from the personal client relationships, which still play a useful, if decreasing, role in agency selection, it may ultimately come down to who has got access to the best data.

Which may not sound particularly exciting but at least it reveals that the rest of the stuff - such as coming up with creativity or smart strategy - has become democratised.

This battle will be played out over the coming years but those who predict the death of the media agency - and according to many advertising practitioners, this will be the biggest change to happen in advertising over the next five years - might just be proved wrong.

Jeremy Lee is associate editor of Campaign

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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