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The Rise (Not Demise) of the Independent Media Agency

Publicis and Omnicom (Pulicom) met last week to start the "integration" process. Megalomania will run rampant, as the old guard will decide on eliminating redundancies (job cuts) and maximizing efficiencies (job cuts). They probably got to drinks before discussing opportunities, because heck, when you're that big what's there to gain?

I'm a media guy. When I got into the biz, integration meant creative and media working hand-in-hand. It meant different aspects of communications coming together in a holistic way to solve a client problem. I could never have imagined that the ultimate creative industry, advertising, would house a company with over 130,000 employees. Think about that, a company the size of Disney, yet totally disparate.

So, does size matter? Especially in media? Is this merger really a good thing for clients? It's hard to see the benefit.

More and more today, clients are demanding agencies be agile, data driven and creative. Oh, and they want everything on the cheap. Independent agencies can combine all of this while also delivering a superior cultural product (I call it likability).

And man, if you're an independent media agency, then you're really in luck. Agility and creativity are your lifeblood. Big data is much more accessible and democratic than ever. Your overhead is low so you can run lean and charge less than the big guys. And media buying is all going to a marketplace model so scale matters far less then it ever did before!

I'm telling you, clients have never ever been thirstier for what you have to offer.

So, how will the rise of the media independent happen? Simple:

Independent media shops will survive and flourish because they offer total and complete objectivity. There are no holding company mandates, shareholders or beasts to feed. Everything is focused on solving the client's problem.

Creative agencies will continue to work with independent media agencies because they LIKE each other. Because creatives live for smart media integration and the media independent won't try to steal their business.

Most importantly, independent media agencies will prosper because they have the ability to focus on the human element of this business – each employee, each client, each media vendor, is regarded as a true partner. Not to mention the culture of these agencies now rival that of creative shops.

Yes, advertising is a business, and business needs to make money. But it takes courage, exploration, trial and error, boldness, close relationships, psychological insights and other critical ingredients; all of which are completely inimical to the type of corporate compliance found in any company that is, well…dependent.