Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

NDA roundtable: what do brands need from agencies right now?

How can agencies best position themselves in uncertain economic times? What sort of support are brands demanding of their agency partners right now?

New Digital Age recently posed these questions and others to a virtual panel of ad industry experts. NDA’s editor Justin Pearse chaired the conversation and was joined by Pete Markey, CMO at Boots; James Chandler, CMO of the IAB; Rebecca Stewart, Europe Brands Editor at Adweek; and Seb Joseph, Senior New Editor at Digiday.

Pete Markey of Boots believes that agencies can be “a huge support” to their clients in times of economic uncertainty. He said: “The best agencies I’ve worked with are those that bring the right mix of ‘support’ and ‘challenge’. You need an external strategic voice to help you stay close to the customer, to keep an eye on the wider market, and to hold you to account and ensure that you are living and breathing your brand purpose at moments like this.” 

With marketing budgets tightening, Rebecca Stewart, Europe Brand Editor, Adweek argued that agencies will need to do a better job of telling their own story to clients.

“Agencies have always been bad at marketing themselves,” said Stewart. “Right now, the brand CMOs I’m speaking to are looking for an agency to be a partner across all aspects of the business, all the different pillars, whether it’s ecommerce or digital transformation. With a looming recession and CMOs under pressure to deliver growth, agencies need to get better at demonstrating their value and delivering measurable ROI.”

Agencies should concentrate on getting the basics right during this time of economic turbulence, said Seb Joseph, Senior News Editor at Digiday: “The agency business has always been predicated on helping marketers find smart pockets of growth to develop. That becomes even more important in a recession. Agencies will need to be slick and savvy about how they articulate and prove the value they bring to their clients.” 

Irrespective of economic outlook, the issue of sustainability in digital media is likely to remain a hot topic among marketers in 2023, according to James Chandler, CMO, IAB. “Agencies are telling us that there is some pressure now coming from clients around sustainability. Many clients now have other bits of their  house in order, from a carbon footprint perspective, and are now putting digital advertising under the spotlight for closer scrutiny.” 

Watch highlights from the discussion below.