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2020: The year the service layer fights back

News By: Martin KellyDec 5, 2019

As the decade draws to a close, ExchangeWire invited thought leaders from across the industry to share their predictions and insight into what 2020 will hold for the ad tech and martech industries. Under the spotlight today is the service layer, with experts debating on the future role of agencies, the spectrum of in-housing, and the position of the major consultancies. Infectious Media's CEO and Co-founder, Martin Kelly, shares his views. 

IMG_6828 (2)As the co-founder of an agency, it’s depressing to be described as “the service layer”. But if you treat media as a mere commodity then that’s what happens, you lose your significance to clients. I believe 2020 is the year the service layer will fight back to show its strategic value to brands, a position agencies should never have lost.

The coming year will see even more advertisers ripping-up the way they buy media. A proportion of these will in-house, but all will be aiming to build a media model based around data and technology, rather than people and process.

In this environment, it’s easy for the agency service business to lose value, their scaled efficiency play is less and less relevant. Agencies need to reinvent their core offering around insight, planning, technology consultancy and smart activation. But to do this they must wean themselves off their addiction to the precipitously high margins made possible through owning the media supply chain.

Advertisers want more choice in how they work with agencies. In 2020 the media supply chain will be increasingly owned directly by advertisers, whilst the smart agencies build transparent and flexible offerings around it. In-housing will play a part in this new reality, but brands still need help in that model. The question is, will the service layer be brave enough to take the opportunity?


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