Forrester findings on “The Future of Advertising Agencies”

by Mullen 


On 25th of February at a special MITX event titled What is the future of advertising agencies? Forrester analyst and panel moderator Sean Corcoran debuted the findings of his thorough research about the fate of ad agencies and the role they will play for brands and marketers in the future.

Mr. Corcoran gave a brief history of agencies:  ad sales, owners of brand, losers of strategic influence, owners of big idea, splintered specialists — evidence of an ability to adapt constantly over the last 150 years.  But ever since the Internet showed up, agencies (some anyway) have struggled. They continue to think in terms of messages and campaigns rather than experiences. They’ve been slow to master digital technology. They’ve found it hard to move from an assembly line production process to one that’s iterative and adaptive.

So what’s next?  Here’s what Forrester says.  Based on extensive research, interviews with 60 industry leaders here are the preliminary findings debuted last night.  In the next couple of weeks Forrester will issue a final report, available to both agencies and marketers.


It is a new world and clients know it.

  • There’s a complexity of media relationships and an attention scarcity (content without walls).
  • Despite Edelman’s recent findings, Forrester insists that consumers trust consumers more than brands
  • The Groundswell has gone mainstream (consumer is creator/sharer/distributor and there is no going back so deal with it)
  • WOM reigns again; your content and the experiences you create must stimulate it
  • 3.5 billion brand conversations occur every day:  all in public


Consumers hate most advertising 

  • Only 5 % agree with advertising claims
  • 50 % say brands don’t live up to advertising promises
  • 67 % complain there is too much advertising


Adaptive marketing is the new model

  • Powered by digital
  • Real time response, like politics, is the future of marketing
  • All about pull not push
  • Addressability is here
  • Intelligence and analytics will drive everything.  


There is a new media model

  • Paid for scale and reach and speed
  • Owned for content, relationships, listening and co-creation
  • Earned (social, WOM, PR, bloggers, influencers)


Successful agencies of the future will…

  • Build campaigns PLUS platforms, not messages
  • Don’t think in terms of audience but rather about a community of participants.
  • Integrate in new ways: co-creation, curation, crowdsourcing
  • Embrace and master new technologies quickly (iPad anyone?)


Marketers will look for three things from an agency

  • Ideas:  NOTE this does not mean messages or ads
  • Interaction:  engagement, connection, community, media
  • Intelligence: need to collect, report, analyze and predict



Join us where we discuss the Future of Advertising at


About this entry