Agencies of the future are not just service agencies. They don't merely represent and provide counsel for brands. Instead, agencies of the future must also have distribution platforms.
Distribution platforms provide data and qualified links, increase creativity, improve testing capacity and short-cut outreach efforts. This improves the overall caliber of agency services.
A variety of agencies are currently testing distribution platforms models. These models include the construction of publishing platforms, the acquisition of community platforms and collaborations with influencers. If an agency is not actively constructing, acquiring or collaborating on distribution platform strategies, then its future may be short-lived.
Creating owned publishing platforms is one model to consider. This sidesteps the need to attract the attention of a niche content site, or pay advertising dollars to be featured on a site. This cost savings also comes with the benefit of rich data insights. By being both a content publisher and a client content creator, agencies can better predict what type of campaigns will attract the intended audience.
“You have to make great content for your audience. We aren't an agency; in our mind, we work for our audience, not just our client," says Matt Levin, CEO of Donut Media, which specializes in marketing and content creation for the auto industry. "If we aren't serving our audience, we aren't serving our client.”
Both sides of Donut Media's business sustain the other. “We start with our own data; we do a lot of research with blogs, posts, Reddit articles, etc.," Levin says. "What’s the social conversation that’s happening? What are the patterns and how are we matching them? We use all that information to help make our whole team creative.”
That creativity then helps Donut Media, and other agencies who embrace similar models, be more competitive in a saturated industry and deliver breakthrough content. They know the social conversation because they are contributing to it. This tactic is best employed by agencies with clustered industry audiences where a specific publishing platform can also feed the demands of a client list.
Another model involves the acquisition of already successful and relevant community platforms. Like all distribution platforms, they help agencies reduce the effort of finding or attracting traditional publications to post about their content while also providing data from a consistent audience base. It provides a bigger audience and more potential avenues for posting client content than a single publishing platform. Plus, there is less risk in scaling the platform, as the audience has already been proven.
"We see the future consumer getting all of their news and information via the social media platforms they prefer without ever clicking to visit a website or using a search engine," says Joe Youngblood, founder of Explore Media, which has acquired I F#ing Love History and Fails.tvto better meet its growing client list.