Best of the Week: Agencies face new competition from publishers and consultants

The weekend is here. Time to put on your cargo shorts and read up on the best stories Digiday had on offer this week.

Agencies have ageism issues and face new competition
Ad agencies are known to face diversity woes, as evidenced by Publicis Groupe exec Kevin Roberts recent inane comments on women. But there’s also the issue of agencies being biased against older employees. One 53-year-old former agency employee told us his agency felt like a frat house at times. Part of the issue is around agencies wanting to be current with social media and digital — and the assumption those over 40 “don’t get it.” There’s also the undeniable financial pressure agencies face, which leads them to stock themselves with the “young and cheap.”

Like management companies PwC and Deloitte, Accenture has gotten in on the agency game. Accenture Interactive offers agency services in a variety of arenas: content, commerce, marketing and experience, which pull in a combined revenue of $3 billion.  Accenture Interactive’s content practice alone employs around 5,000 full-time staffers globally and made $600 million in revenue last year. “No agencies have the breadth of content that we have,” said Donna Tuths, head of digital content at Accenture Interactive, the agency service within Accenture.

Meanwhile, The New York Times snatched up its second marketing agency this year. It bought Fake Love, a Brooklyn experiential agency in order to beef up the T Brand Studio’s capabilities around virtual reality and other marketing tactics. The buy is small, and much of value lies in the talent, but it’s a sign of the times that a big publisher like The Times wants to offer a lot more agency-like services.

Inside Foursquare’s reboot
Foursquare is spinning itself as a data repository for real-world movement that can answer the question of whether ads result in activity in the real world. The app has been quietly building an enterprise business out of its consumer data collected from users. Its trove of data holds promise, according to several agency executives, although there are still doubts Foursquare faces as the “check-in” app.

“Every time you check in, we capture all the sensors like the Wi-Fi, the Bluetooth and the beacons,” said Foursquare president Steven Rosenblatt. “We want to build a consumer-based foot-traffic panel.”

The age of experimentation for publishers
Not three days after Instagram debuted Stories, a very Snapchatty feature that allows users to share slideshows of images and video independently of their profiles, publishers of every stripe have pounced on the opportunity to show off some more off-beat storytelling sensibilities. We take a look at the media dogpile in the new feature. Media outlets including Bloomberg, The New York Times, Huffington Post, Bustle and more all posted their own Stories of varying length — and with varying degrees of success.

We also took a look at how Time is sharing articles on Japanese messaging app Line — and is claiming to have racked up 125,000 Line followers in a week.

And “E News!” is betting on Facebook Live and Snapchat Discover. Nightly entertainment news show “E! News” has spent the past 20 months shifting its business from two separate teams — one focused on the TV broadcast and the other on digital — into one 200-person unit that’s creating unique content for all platforms. “We’ve centralized leadership overseeing content, production, technology, social, everything in order to have a unified strategy,” John Najarian, evp and gm of E! News., tells us.

Finally, there’s now an emoji conference
Finally, and no this is not a headline from the Onion, mark your calendars: A conference devoted to emojis is coming November. Key quote: “We want to create a space open for discussion about whether hummus should be an emoji…” 😐

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