Adapting to a Rapidly Shifting Media Landscape: How Creative Agencies Must Evolve

Published on April 29, 2024

The media and marketing worlds are undergoing seismic shifts, forcing creative agencies like mine to be more nimble and adapt our offerings to better serve brands and consumers. During a recent podcast, my colleague Jess Markwood, COO of THE FIFTH, and I discussed how agencies must evolve to stay ahead of the curve.

Embrace a Flatter, More Flexible Structure

The traditional rigid agency model with very defined roles and departments is becoming outdated. Smaller, flatter agency structures allow for greater flexibility, efficiency, and collaboration across disciplines.

At nimbler shops, roles are less siloed, with team members able to lend their diverse skills across strategy, creative ideation, production and more. Anyone can come up with a creative idea, solve a problem, and really make something that’s really great. This cross-pollination breeds innovation.  

Consolidate Offerings Under One Roof

Brands increasingly want to consolidate their agency partners and work with firms that can handle multiple needs. Our agency began as a pure influencer marketing agency but expanded into a full-service social creative agency as clients demanded more cohesive cross-channel solutions. 

By offering an integrated set of services in-house — strategy, creative, influencer activations, social media management, content production, etc. — we can develop more unified brand narratives and experiences. We can also build in measurement that considers the full funnel.

Get Real With Cultural Authenticity

To create culturally resonant work, agencies must intimately understand the diverse communities they’re trying to reach. At THE FIFTH, we tap influencers and creators from specific communities to provide authentic insights that inform our strategy and creative.

This applies to the agency brand, as well. Agencies today need to serve a distinct and differentiated point of view that’s authentic to the collective experiences of the creative teams behind the brand.

Embrace New Technologies Like AI  

While there are concerns about AI’s impact on the creative industry, we are exploring how to leverage it as an enabler. At THE FIFTH, our creatives have taken the lead in using AI as proof of concept. AI allows them to rapidly iterate concepts, storyboard ideas, and align stakeholders before moving into production.

We are also utilizing AI for smarter data analysis with a tool that scans images, videos, comments, emojis, and more to derive nuanced insights. It has learned the nuance around how people engage.  So now, in real time, we’re using those tools to educate us further on what the next campaign has in store for us.

Listen to Your Youngest Team Members

One key piece of advice I offer brand marketers: listen to the youngest people on your team. This space is young, and our youngest members of the team are the ones who have grown up glued to their mobile phones and only understand social media.

I find the best, most culturally resonant ideas often come from these digital natives.

Keeping a Pulse on What’s Next

Ultimately, agencies today must be in a constant state of evolution to keep pace with rapidly shifting consumer behaviors, new technologies, and platform changes.

It almost doesn’t feel like you’re forward-thinking in our space because you’re constantly having to evolve, change, adapt, and move with this industry. My team has an innovation division focused on areas like AI integration.  

In this ever-morphing landscape, agencies embracing progressive models, cross-discipline collaboration, authentic cultural representation and new technologies will be best positioned to deliver fresh, impactful work that moves brands forward.

Shannon Reed is a Grit Daily Leadership Network member and VP of Accounts and Operations at THE FIFTH.

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