The Death Of The Advertising Specialist

A friend of mine was referred to a series of medical specialists recently and each doctor focused on their own very specific area of expertise. While they were able to rule out the cause within their narrow field, ultimately, none of them could really figure how to solve the real problem.

Many marketing directors now face a similar challenge. They need to grow their brands, but they rely on an arsenal of disparate marketing specialists for SEO, their website, public relations, content production, programmatic, social media, influencer marketing, media buying, branded content, reporting and analytics — the list goes on. And with uncharted areas like the Internet of Things (IoT) and virtual reality (VR) on the horizon, the list will only continue to expand.

That’s why the specialist model for advertising is becoming completely untenable and more senior marketing leaders are calling for a re-bundling of services back into one house. As examples, Marc Pritchard, CMO of Procter & Gamble, commented, "We're looking for a higher degree of consolidation to make integration and interdependence more effective." Maurice Levy, CEO of Publicis Group, highlighted that their future core account team will be run by "multispecialists.” Agency reviews by McDonald’s and AT&T resulted in bundled services with dedicated client teams as well.

Control Your FOMMO

Most marketing directors suffer from F.O.M.M.O.: "fear of missing marketing opportunities." It’s difficult not to, considering the pace of change in media and technology. Marketers are torn by two incompatible desires: to be everywhere relevant at once and to have a consistent, coherent message across those platforms. Hiring a bunch of specialists to cover the emerging media gamut is a recipe for a fractured message.

Marketing only works when there is a consistent message. Yet specialists, by design, are more invested in their category than the client. Asking an SEO consultant whether you should spend more on SEO is like asking a barber if you need a haircut. Ask them for broader marketing solutions and they will inevitably look through a singularly focused lens. A roster of agencies that are following their own self-interest without consideration of the overall goals of the marketer is an expensive misuse of funds.

In contrast, full-service agencies sit in a better position to provide efficient solutions — they can see a more holistic view of objectives across channels and partners.