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Let’s be friends: Future open relationships between advertisers and creative agencies

by Amelie Timm  |  October 12, 2017

3 min. read
Agency workflow

Digitization processes and a burgeoning consciousness in advertising companies have shifted the relationship between advertisers and creative agencies. New design systems enable advertisers to differentiate their advertising formats internally and to independently develop, adapt and optimize them online with design programs and templates to effectively reproduce the content. Creative agencies are increasingly becoming a sparring partner as well as an external creativity source. Their role as a permanent everyday companion – responsible for producing any kind of advertising collateral – is a thing of the past.

The shifting relationship between advertisers and companies

For most marketing managers, it’s still normal to contact the creative service provider for every comma correction in the InDesign document. But the relationship between creative agencies and advertisers is changing. Design systems – often in the form of interactive mini-websites – change the development and further development processes of corporate identities (CI) as well as the creation of connected formats. Design controlling takes place in the digital space: every employee accesses the current system within the company’s CI through the systems. If the advertiser has an experienced in-house creative department, the systems enable him to develop the CI organically, independently of the creative agency.

Agencies will continue to be permanent partners if they are able to make themselves indispensable with outstanding creative ideas and sparring partners for the customer. In companies, these sparring partners are still needed because the responsible marketing managers are often busy and a part of the company’s routines. To relieve internal staff and effectively circumvent operational blindness, creative agencies remain important partners. Companies are shaping their look and feel in the future to a much greater extent than before. The relatively simple production and reproduction of marketing materials is increasingly taking place in companies with the help of templates and editors. Agencies based on knowledge mastery and not creative enablement will lose their appeal.

A women in an office is working on her laptop, while co-workers are busy in the background.
Agencies will remain relevant through enablement of their clients.

Powered by megatrend corporate publishing and native advertising

The evolving file management technologies transforming workflows between agencies and advertisers are being driven by a different megatrend: as companies function more and more like media houses to be able to compete with the competition, the creative field must also be more agile and faster. Companies such as large American sports clubs or beverage manufacturers are making this happen. These brands are staging their content, which is entertaining, meaningful and often shared with a target group in real-time. However, in the numerous publication channels, the value of the content fizzles when it’s not clearly associated with a strong brand.

Advertisers expand in-house

The trend towards in-house CI management means that larger companies are expanding their creative departments. Large parts of conceptual work and existing services are provided by the company directly. This includes, in addition to the creation of the work, the managing of logos, product images, formats, etc. within digital asset management systems. The resulting design systems already have their workflows within existing marketing technologies such as digital asset management systems or content management systems. They are also able to automatically send out digital design examples, such as banners, website templates or Google AdWords ads.

This all may initially sound radical for creative agencies but is the logical next step in the digitization process and is gradually covering every business area. The concept of mapping everyday work using new technology in-house and developing creative services together with external agencies as a creative pool is stronger and more flexible than the previous model. However, large and small companies will start to move, since the expansion of inner creativity – in addition to the corresponding budget ­ also requires a change in mentality regarding the importance of differentiated and brand-specific content. The reorganization of these processes could make large companies quicker in the face of available marketing budgets as well as small companies with even more flexible structures than SMEs.