Amazon, ageism and automated trading: Predicting the future of media agencies

From diversity to automated trading, PHD's Mark Jarrett takes us through the what he expects the media agencies landscape to look like in 2018.

Predictions for the upcoming year is never an easy task. Luckily, no-one ever checks if they come true and usually, the “future” is already here, but we just haven’t worked out what to do with it yet.

Having said that, here are a few issues that are already on the industry’s agenda that could grow and evolve into bigger talking points in 2018.

Automated trading

Whilst the recent arrival of Nine’s Galaxy is a welcomed addition to sit alongside MCNs already established Landmark system, there is still much to be done in this space. Adapting to the inevitable widespread use of the new technology will take more than the set and forget approach the headlines around ease, speed and accuracy of targeting and delivery promise.

Fundamental challenges exist in delivery of reach, frequency and quality goals across holistic TV campaigns – measurements that clients and their auditors are still very much focused on.

Transitioning to an automated tech-reliant solution is going to take considerable more effort across the board than is currently being credited. Effectively creating three walled gardens of TV delivery, once Seven joins the automation party, means the holy grail of cross-media measurement will be even further away. Effectively managing the combined outputs of the three major players in the TV space will become a greater challenge for the entire ecosystem that agencies will be looking to address in 2018.


The arrival of Amazon is focusing everyone’s attention to e-commerce. Whilst in no way underplaying Amazon’s longer term impact on the market, the big challenge in 2018 will be addressing the relative neglect of a growing sales channel that already represents approximately 7% of all sales in Australia.

The optimisation of the plethora of bricks and mortar sites along with online-only stores presents a massive opportunity for brands and for those skilled in SEM. Whilst e-commerce specialists may be thin, those with SEM skills are not and SEM style optimisation skills are the basis of strong e-commerce best practices. Agencies with strong search offerings will be able to give their clients a competitive advantage in 2018.


The foray of consultancy firms into the media and advertising space over the past two years has made a number of headlines. Often, the catalyst of the move into this space is marked by either the acquisition of an agency or the hiring of a key industry talent.

Come late 2018, a lot of this talent will have garnered a couple of years’ experience on the consultancy side. We could see agencies fighting back by launching their own consultancy practices, doing so by hiring back the same talent that now has an in-depth understanding of both the agency and consultancy sides of the business.

Digitised traditional media

Traditional media will look to monetise their ongoing investment in digitising their offerings, both to create a return on that investment and also because it’s the most obvious route to growth.

It’s likely that the new, cut-through, media-first, different etc… of 2017 will come under increased scrutiny from agencies in 2018. More robust accountability and measurement questions could lead to difficult conversations and negotiations. Media owners experiencing rapid growth from digitised offerings need to learn lessons from some of the measurement issues of 2017 to ensure they’re not caught out in any crisis of confidence in 2018.


Within our industry, the focus on gender balance has rightly been a hot topic over the past year. In June, ageism was addressed as the diversity debates forgotten issue at Mumbrella 360.

Next year, we will see the focus expand to other key issues in the diversity debate that also need to be brought into the spotlight. This year, PHD engaged in a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) which is a commitment to create social change and economic opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in our workplace.

It’s a long-term commitment that will see these backgrounds represented even stronger within our agency. This is especially important as our research uncovered just how few indigenous people are represented across media. The widening of the diversity debate will be a focus of conversations across 2018.

Mark Jarrett is PHD Australia’s managing director. 


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