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The rise of the automation powered agency

30-second summary:

  • The automated agency model incorporates a combination of human and machine intelligence, creating what Forrester calls intelligent creativity.
  • The perfect creative team needs to use a combination of human and machine ingenuity, a process they refer to as “intelligent creativity”.
  • Smart creativity relies on AI, smart software, and automation to improve (rather than replace) an agency’s creativity and productivity.
  • Agencies are reluctant to embrace automation for a number of reasons, including the inability to keep up with the fast pace of change, the lack of automation talent, and the high cost of acquiring new tools.
  • When automation is prioritized as the agency’s core principle, it becomes a tool to enhance, rather than replace, the agency’s capabilities.

According to a recent Forrester report, creative and media agencies are well on their way to losing 11% of jobs to automation by 2023 and 2032, respectively. The composition of the agencies is changing. Smaller finance departments, less back office support, and a reduction in production and creative jobs – the core of the agency – are all affected by automation.

For media agencies, the most affected departments are the ones that are easier to automate and include QA, tagging and voting.

That’s not all bad news. This suggests that the demand for agencies is not going down, but the way agencies can add value to their clients is changing.

Human + machine intelligence = the new creative model

Forrester concludes that the perfect creative team must use a combination of human and machine ingenuity, a process they refer to as “intelligent creativity.” The types of tools that enable intelligent creativity depend heavily on AI, intelligent software, and automation to improve an agency’s creativity and productivity.

We asked Andrew Hally, CMO at Bynder, for his opinion on how agencies can use automation to improve, rather than replace, agency capabilities. Bynder is a cloud-based DAM (Digital Asset Management) platform that uses AI to help companies organize and optimize creative assets.

DAMs make collaboration between creative, production, and sales teams easier, so brands can easily access media, graphics, and documents across distributed teams (which is especially useful when many companies are working remotely). Although agencies can now automate some of their creative execution, they are slow to adopt this new technology.

“While marketing automation has come a long way in the last decade, it is still incredibly unbalanced. The execution of downstream campaigns is now highly automated, but the same investment has not been made in upstream creative work – it is still largely manual and bespoke. We are at a tipping point where the volume of content we need is simply no longer sustainable, ”writes Hally.

“Agencies have benefited from automation in the past. There are still fears that more automation of marketing processes will replace jobs. However, if you look back over the past 100 years of history, there is a pattern of automation that lowers costs and increases consumption. In some cases, employment actually increases. “

Agencies are reluctant to advocate automation

In a 2019 survey by Marketing Land of digital agencies, 72% of respondents were neutral when asked how they felt about automation. The challenges agencies face in automation are similar to those of brands – a rapidly changing marketing environment, the super-fast pace of innovation, and the urgent need to find people qualified to manage all of these new technologies.

Finding talent is a huge pain point. While 70% of respondents said they would be hiring, 50% said they had difficulties filling positions.

The cost of purchasing and implementing marketing automation tools is another (big) challenge for agencies and a major reason they don’t want to get on the automation train. Without the talent to manage automated tools, many are wasted.

AI automated tools require constant care and feeding, meaning data and analysis are prioritized (e.g., there is a data plan in place and the data entered into these tools is monitored and updated frequently).

In short, implementing an automation strategy is a critical step that agencies need to take before they can really take advantage of this technology. This is a main reason why the agency’s take on automation is lukewarm at best. There are already a dozen balls that agencies have to juggle with, from client inquiries to managing existing campaigns to talent recruiting.

Agencies that are prioritizing automation now will stand out from their competitors and (ultimately) find that it is easier to keep up with the growing demands of customers – from the need for more targeted and personalized campaigns to the increasing need to be timely To achieve relevant and high results, quality content abounds.

“This technology is now well positioned to alleviate the ‘content crisis’ facing many companies and to give designers and videographers time to focus on higher-quality activities that make up high-performing brands,” said Hally.

“It will also change the way you work creatively. The old “big idea” that is delivered as finished assets does not fit into today’s algorithmic, personalized digital experience infrastructure. Instead, agencies will provide “kits” of source files that digital marketing teams can use to generate the hundreds of variations their campaigns need in a far more agile process. “

The agility of automation

The Forrester report emphasizes the importance of smart creativity as a way for agencies to recover from a loss of business due to the pandemic. When automation is prioritized as the agency’s core principle, it becomes a tool to enhance, rather than replace, the agency’s capabilities.

Brands already do that. Bynder saw that their customers achieved tremendous success by combining automation with human ingenuity.

Hally writes: “A Bynder customer had their in-house agency create social media templates to improve consistency and allow other parts of the marketing team to locate assets and optimize them as needed. The reusability, agility, and improved marketing enable both agency and internal creative teams to deliver more value. “

Accelerating automation within the agency is the best (and possibly only) way for agencies to stay relevant as we move into 2021 and beyond. The need for agility, flexibility and scalability with fewer resources requires automation.

This is not about giving up creativity in favor of technology. It’s about hugging both of them. Agencies that accelerate automation and integrate it into their existing offerings have the best chance of being successful.

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