Gone are the days when marketing heavily relied on creativity to thrive in the industry.

Like most other fields, today marketing has become more driven by data and technology. Brand awareness no longer suffices, the need to incorporate enhanced customer experience is imperative. Hence, advertising agencies must compete against its fast-emerging rival – consulting firms. Therefore, advertising agencies are now facing bigger digital agency networks such as Accenture Interactive, Deloitte Digital, PwC Digital Services, and Epsilon.

Rise of Consultants

In a record-breaking result, four consulting firms could manage to rank among the 10 largest agency companies in the world – Accenture, PwC, IBM and Deloitte. Accenture Interactive was even named as the biggest and fastest-growing digital agency network. Although it may not be surprising anymore because of the current trend, the revenue for the consulting firms has surged to an all-time high. And, it is not by accident. These consultancies have managed to up their revenue through organic growth, mix of acquisitions, geographically-strategic expansions, consolidation of marketing-related services and bringing new products and practices to the table.

Loyalty in Service

Admit it, brand loyalty itself is no longer predominantly significant. Consumers are not prone to be loyal to brands as they once were because

Generational know-hows have made experiencing with tried-and-tested a pushover gamble.

This is where and how consultants build loyalty with clients. While agencies are still dressed as “snake oil salesman” with their irrational fees, exhausting “anti-engineering” processes and production costs, loyalty will mean remaining the same and not exploring alternatives away from award winning creativity and into performance oriented business growth.

Systematic Change

As the consumers’ needs and preferences have rapidly evolved, marketing directors now believe that creativity alone is not enough to drive growth. The use of data analytics has allowed companies and brands to determine what the customers wants and needs and enabled them to improve their products.

It has also allowed a more scalable and personalized solutions creating better customer experience.

Hence, data-led strategy provided solutions that traditional advertising can no longer solve alone. Therefore, agencies are in big trouble – it is no longer a campaign over campaign marketing, it is a consistent business real-time strategy that wins the fight, something traditional agencies don’t even know where to start; or adapt.

Business Giants

Without a doubt, the race is on between consulting firms and the advertising agencies.

Advertising agencies rally theirselves as creative entities and are facing the challenge on how they can effectively integrate better and faster consumer insight and data to enhance customer experience. This technical-business issues have proven that creative agencies are not that creative outside of “art”.

On the other hand, consultant firms are gaining the upper hand in the competition by gaining a foothold across marketing departments and luring CMO’s with their wide array of data analytics, new technology and strategic solutions while they bulk up on creative talent.


By bolstering their strategic consulting and integrating data in their offerings to provide the one-stop solutions that majority of the clients prefer, these advertising agencies may have a better chance against their newly-found rival.

Mutation by Force

Below are some of the areas advertising agencies may need to consider:

  • Meta-learning: Integrate consistent strategic solutions and technology to scale customer experience.
  • Data Science: Embrace the data-driven approach.
  • Polymaths: Get the right technical people to do the job.
  • Forward-thinking: Include a wide array of technical solutions.
  • Millennials: Fast moving, hyper thinking, #super hungry talent.

Marketing has indeed gone through a major makeover in the recent years. The rise of consulting firms is but a reflection of this metamorphosis. This is further intensified by the advent of ad skipping, screening and blocking plus the continuous decline of television popularity. Hence, brands must look for other ways to reach out to their customers. This means that traditional agencies should also find ways to adapt to these changes and innovate their product offerings – else they will surely be left behind, selling ‘snake-oil’.