For a long time, the chief skill of an advertising agency, over and above coming up with ideas, was convincing companies, aka clients, to do something. Then helping those clients once they were convinced, to convince their bosses to approve the budgets to do that thing.
In a world where media plans in hindsight look pretty formulaic and simple - a TV spot, some radio for reach and print or more recently add a microsite and an experiential event maybe some PR - it was still damn hard to get something truly great done.
Now, when that first layer of the pre-determined media plan is long gone, is the chief skill an agency (regardless of discipline) figuring out how to make itself do something? And not just do any something, but do something great.
When anything can be media, when any medium can be used creatively to solve a problem, where every discipline needs to hold itself to a higher, more honest, engaging and motivating standard doesn't figuring out how to solve a problem start with figuring out how you're going to go about solving a problem?
Maybe solving the problem doesn't even involve you. In a world of infinite possibilities and finite resources maybe you should crowd source something for $1000 while you dedicate $100,000 to something that drives a much bigger return.
Then once you've figured out what to do, aka come up with the idea, you can get on with the business of convincing a client to do it.
Then once you've convinced them to do it, comes the equally difficult task of executing it. Making sure you've got a great director/photographer or emotive storyteller along with the lighting masters and craftsmen that can make it rain anywhere on the clearest night in the middle of the ocean up a massive fjord (see above.)
A great idea poorly executed is no longer a great idea. Pity, if you've spent all that time doing the other stuff.
Fresh ideas take fresh approaches. Standard approaches lead to standard ideas. This applies to every discipline, not just "agencies" . You too designer. You too digital shop. You too social media expert. You too media agency.
Might just be my personal bent, but it's going to be fascinating, as clients consolidate agency rosters, who does and doesn't master the next wave of integrative thinking. Or maybe the integrative doing is better. An no, this doesn't mean a heavy brand bible dictating the carpet matches the curtains, if you know what I mean...