Mairi Clark asks whether agencies should abandon new media or
concentrate on its long-term potential
Agencies are not prepared to invest in new media and they haven’t got
the necessary expertise. Should they give up?
Over recent years, advertising agencies have retreated into their core
disciplines, mainly due to financial pressures. New media is expensive
and expertise is in short supply.
It seems to be current policy for agencies to allow entrepreneurial
spirits to take the risks, while taking palliative action to set up
their own largely ineffectual departments, starved of funds and
In the foreseeable future, income flows from new media will be a
fraction of those from traditional media, so it’s likely new-media
agencies will stay separate.
This is bad news for advertisers, who are presiding over an increasingly
fragmented advertising marketplace without the guidance of the old-
fashioned agency account man, or the much-vaunted, but little evidenced,
total communications planner. Don’t give up, buy in.
Patrick Burton Group media director Allied Domecq
No. Primarily because it isn’t going to go away and, as new media
becomes more mass market and a key part of brand communication, it will
be part of the service full-service agencies are expected to provide
In my opinion, integration is essential and consequently there is little
option but to invest. By winning two British Interactive Multimedia
Association awards, I think that Bates has demonstrated that agencies
can acquire the expertise if they want to.
The issue is the amount of return an agency can expect from its
investment and how long it will have to wait to realise that return. It
may be a long-term game, but the agencies that develop expertise now
will capture the high ground.
Mike Crossman Managing director Bates Interactive mcrossman@bates-
Well, obviously, if they’re not prepared to invest and they don’t
acquire the expertise, then yes, they should give up. They’ll be
outclassed by the proverbial spotty blokes in bedrooms anyway.
And for the next few years agencies will get away without new-media
expertise because, for most clients, it’s still a marginal part of the
mix. Hence there’s not much money in it.
But wait until the Internet is embedded into every communications device
- then agencies will spend the money and acquire the expertise. And, at
this point, their political skills, brand management expertise and
networks will blow the new-media specialists out of the water.
Unfortunately, you can’t manage global communications from your bedroom.
Russell Davies Marketing director Leo Burnett email@example.com
The traditional agency is little more than a bank for the client’s media
expenditure, with creative services thrown in for good measure. Agencies
have never been very good at innovation, generally following the demands
of their clients. Research and development is a fount of new products
for other industries, but in the agency world this function doesn’t
However, there are a few major players making substantial investments.
These are the agencies that think beyond next year’s media spend to a
world where the very nature of retailing and communication has changed.
They are agencies that consider broader issues of communication, not
just the advertising market. If agencies wait until the client has a
demand they’ll find it’s too late. The business - and the future - will
have gone elsewhere.
Paul Syrysko Managing director Stream firstname.lastname@example.org
Despite having just left one of the best ad agencies in London to set up
Indexfinger, I don’t automatically subscribe to the view that ad
agencies are unable to operate in this area.
It’s unfair to suggest that they don’t have the expertise in-house -
they don’t have photographers or film directors, but still co-produce
What they do need is a more open-minded approach to collaborating with
trusted third-party companies and to accept that they really can’t do
all of this on their own.
However, in some cases, their egos will hold them back.
Mark Dickinson Managing director Indexfinger email@example.com
Java, Castanet, live 3D, platform-independent cryptology, real time
streaming protocol, naked dancing llamas. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
For the Internet to achieve universal acceptance, it’ll have to take off
its anorak and step out of the closet.
And when that happens, the only new-media companies still in business
won’t be those that can speak fluent cyber-ese, but those that have
learned to abandon crude, hard-sell techniques in favour of a more
compelling and creative approach. And they’ll have to compete with the
ad industry, which went through the same learning curve before the Web
Peter Mill Senior partner the Leith Agency firstname.lastname@example.org