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The biggest 2020 challenges for agencies

The media landscape is constantly evolving and changing, meaning media agencies have to follow suit.

Those that remain rigid and inflexible will struggle in 2020

Agencies that innovate their current operation and evolve in line with client needs and requirements will find their place in the new landscape. We explore some of the biggest challenges agencies are set to face in 2020.

In-housing isn’t slowing down

The practice of bringing marketing and advertising activities in-house rather than relying on an external agency was a huge trend in 2019 and shows no sign of slowing down in 2020.

According to recent reports, 59% of global chief marketing officers plan to bring more media functions in-house next year. Within this group, 27% are focused on their own programmatic buying, with 17% looking at in-house media buying.

Vodafone and Wall Street Journal have already found success with their own trading desks. How many other brands are set to follow suit in the next 12 months remains to be seen.

Adapting to new technologies

A recent report by Wix, highlighted that one of the biggest challenges for agencies in 2020 will be how they adapt to new technologies and the benefits they can provide their clients through tech.

When an agency investigates a new ad-tech partner to work with, it’s crucial that they opt for a partner or platform that promises access to market-leading technology, but that does so in an intuitive and easy to use way. Remember, if it’s a service you’re going to provide to your clients, your agency staff must be competent, confident and able to get the best out of the technology.
An ad-tech provider that makes the complex simple is vital.

Keeping hold of the best talent

The days of account managers, senior leadership and the best creative minds sticking around at the same agency for 20 years are well and truly gone.

In the face of increased agency competition and the potential offers to join in-house teams client side, the problem of staff turnover is only going to increase. However, with 94% of employees saying they would stay put if their employers invested in their futures, the solutions for agencies may be fairly straightforward.

Investing in company culture, looking at the opportunities for flexible working and enhancing staff development programmes are all options agencies should be investigating.

Staying competitive

Next year in the US, ad agencies are expected to generate over $45billion in revenue, which shows a significant YoY growth. The issue is that there are close to 15,000 agencies all vying for this budget.

Competition is rife. The more established agencies are facing issues of how to adapt in the face of new disruptors, whilst the start-ups just entering the market are challenged with growing and scaling in a way where they can still serve the clients that helped them get there in the first place.

The budget is there, but it’s the most competitive, agile and innovative agencies that will secure it.

Identifying (and getting the best out of) the newest trends

In the current media landscape, clients expect their agencies to be consultants and strategic thinkers. That means an ability to spot the newest trends.

Throughout 2019, clients will have been listening to their agencies telling them about the importance of voice search in 2020. Specifically that 50% of all searches next year will be voice search.

Understanding what the next big thing is set to be is only a small fraction of the challenge for agencies. Those that will win in 2020 are the ones that already have strategies in place for how their clients can make the most of it and get ahead of their competition. Simply talking about trends is never enough.

Offering Remote working

Mobile working is expected to reach 70% in 2020. There are numerous studies about the advantages of flexible and remote working for employees, whether to assist with their mental health, productivity or work-life balance.

Agency owners that stick to the traditional model despite the increased desire for flexible working from employees are likely to struggle to retain their staff in the face of forward-thinking agencies that promise this for employees. Remember the stat about employees wanting to feel invested in? This is a key way to show that, and one that can improve business performance in the long run.

Positioning and selling their services

Clients want to know how specific activity will help their business and impact their bottom line. They don’t want to be sold services anymore, rather they desire to see their agency as a business solutions provider that is offering something that they can’t achieve in house.

How agencies position themselves and pitch their services will only become more important in 2020 in the face of in-housing and evolving client approaches.


At Fluid Ads we work with a range of media agencies so they can provide complementary products and services to their clients that will always make a difference to their individual businesses. Get in touch today to take the first step to becoming a digital partner for your clients.

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