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The Battle for the Service Layer in 2019: The Media Revolution has begun!

The CEO of Inskin Media, Hugo Drayton, casts his eye over the current state of media and, he predicts, big changes are coming its way…

In the years before the internet Age, the old adage that “Information is Power” was represented by an omnipotent establishment with privileged access to the knowledge that was keeping them in control and keeping them in power.

The last two decades, however, have seen a necessary democratisation of information, with the knowledge that was once only available to the very powerful or the very wealthy now available to anyone, anywhere at any time. The internet has levelled the playing field. The old barriers have been decimated by the sheer impunity with which information is now broadcast. Diplomacy and secrecy have long-since been cast aside in the name of transparency and fairness.

This devotion to creating a fairer media world is admirable and is typified by the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulations, which might have inflicted some pain in the short term, but is part of a necessary industry-wide clean-up. Transparency is the key word here and there is a great appetite from clients to drive transparency. As such, we’re seeing more agencies reforming with transparency at their core.

Recent exhortations from Pritchard & Weed, on behalf of P&G and Unilever, are focused on transparency, discussing the removal of fraudulent inventory and hidden charges from media plans. It will take time, but the promise of blockchain – a wholly transparent, independent, reliable ledger – is already encouraging more open behaviour from agencies and media businesses. The myriad services that will flow from its development and evolution, will play an important role in this revolution.

The media revolution

The service layer in digital media, in particular, is changing: the convergence of adtech and martech, the greater focus on customer-centricity and the growing importance of tech and data in marketing has created a new, increasingly fragmented space where agencies, consultancies, and specialist solution providers are all fighting to own the marketer relationship. The lines are beginning to blur too, with more agencies using consultancy models, and more consultancies creating or acquiring their own activation divisions – as we’ve already seen with Accenture and Deloitte.

The health and the potential of the creative sector relies upon the buoyancy of small businesses, which, in turn, relies upon timely payments for their services. Much has been said on the difficulties for SME’s when payments from agencies are late. Unfortunately, many SMEs have been damaged, or even destroyed, by a culture of systematic late payments.

The Australian government, however, is leading the way and taking encouraging action to force businesses to pay their bills on time – which is illustrative of a wider shift about to take place. It’s my belief that obfuscation, inefficiencies, and hidden costs which have often characterised the advertising industry, will finally be removed this year and technology – including blockchain – will be a large part of the imminent renewal process.

Talent injection

As with any revolution, there will inevitably be casualties. As bigger media companies and agencies adapt to these new expectations, there will be an acceleration in consolidation. Bigger enterprises will need to embrace this change, and may need an injection of the talent that is currently dedicated to the start-up culture – these bright, ambitious digital natives are well placed to help reinvigorate a number of businesses and lead them through necessary change.

Ultimately, the media revolution will cause friction, with many agencies and consultancies understandably worried around how it might impact profitability. However, with the right talent, agencies will be able to adapt to the new norm.

Published for the first time on Written by Hugo Drayton, CEO of Inskin Media.

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