Why Agencies Need To Become Content Creators

PR man and Ad Age columnist, Steve Rubel, envisions a world where agencies are disintermediated by media companies.

Today nearly every media company (91%) offers some kind of “agency-like” services. This includes former untouchables like idea generation (88%) and creative development (79%).
The image of media companies as lumbering dinosaurs lingering toward extinction in a world of infinite content is downright wrong. They are more in sync with consumers than any other contingency in the marketing ecosystem. Their entire DNA is digital.
…it’s clear that as they get smarter the risk to agencies has never been greater.

According to Ad Age, Booz Allen Hamilton asked marketers which organizations would become more important to them by 2010, media companies, media planners and communications planners topped the list, with 52% believing they would be more integral. Ad agencies of record? Only 27% thought they would be more integral.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. Steve is right.
    Most big ad agencies are little more than TV production facilitators with a little, ahem, “thinking” sprinkled on top.
    hardly the best biz model to have nowadays.
    advertising has suddenly become ALL about “how do we reach them?”

  2. Yes, but most of their ‘idea generation’ content quality sucks. And when the quality does finally get better it will be because the talent got better. But that quality talent costs money to attract. And by the time media companies can compete with ad agencies on that front, the industry will be far enough evolved that the difference between ad agency and media agency will be very minimal. So why be so anal about it?
    They’re both headed towards a singularity, yet there’s so much BS out there. At the end of the day, quality strategic and creative thinking will always be the currency, no matter what form or name it comes in.

  3. Agree with Tmbo’s point but sad thing may be to the brands, quality of thought might not even matter any longer, if it ever did. Just as long as they can ‘reach’ that demo in the online space, who cares what the creative looks like, you know. (Yes, have experienced this phenom all too often as of late.) To them and their media shop, it’s just another ad unit they bought space for and put our logo here thank you very much.
    The coolest promos that engage consumers that I‘ve seen haven’t been done by media shops, it’s hot interactive places doing it on their own like 72andsunny or Barbarian Group working with CP+B, to name a few.
    Forgetting the size of the shop for a sec, it seems to me it will be more a case of ad agencies shoring up their media capabilities than media shops trying to become more creative. Having seen that attempt at a makeover firsthand, I think creative’s something that’s in a shop’s DNA or it isn’t, no matter how many people they hire in the art department.