What’s Next: Integration Do Or Die

By Mike Drexler and Steve Fajen

In the 1950s, the first commercially marketed Univac computer was used to tabulate the US Census.  By May of 1997, IBM’s Deep Blue computer defeated world chess champion Gary Kasparov in six games.  Over a three-day period, in mid-February of this year, two ex-Jeopardy mega-champions ganged up on IBM’s “Watson” computer and collectively managed to eek out only 40% of the answers and the money. And finally, a recent issue of Time magazine predicted that by 2045 a computer would surpass the combined intelligence of all humanity.

This phenomenon was described in Alvin Toffler’s landmark 1970 book Future Shock. “Unless man learns quickly to control the rate of change in his personal affairs as well as society at large, we are doomed to a massive adaptation breakdown.”

The premise of controlling the rate of change is very relevant in the media business and most especially in a client’s selection of a media agency.  Consider the following:

The Center for Media Research just published a study by Pew Research that described the communication habits of six different generations (Table 1).   This is important because it telescopes our vision of the next five to ten years as these generations age and new ones take their place with an even greater acceptance of technology.


Table 1


% Pop



Cell text

Cell email

Cell internet

Kids 2-12 14%
Teens 13-17 9
Millennials 18-34 23 70% 95% 94% 52% 63%
Gen X 35-46 16 61 92 83 35 42
Young Boomers 47-56 13 49 86 68 26 25
Older Boomers 57-65 12 43 84 49 22 15
Silent Gen 66-74 7 30 68 27 14 17
GI Gen 75+ 6 10 48 9 7 2
Total 18+ 100% 52% 85% 72% 34% 38%

In five years, the oldest Gen Xers will be 50 and today’s teens will have reached 18.  That group (18-50) with their even more advanced use of communications technology will represent nearly one-half of all people in the US.  They have been, and will continue to be, in the vanguard of adapters to all forms of social, mobile, search, and relationship technology.  We estimate that, within five years, large advertisers will invest fully two-thirds of their major media budgets in television and digital media.

A media agency that does not recognize and adapt to, harness and seamlessly integrate these elements will significantly under-serve their clients and succumb to future shock.  A client that appoints a media agency without sufficient hands-on knowledge of all media, particularly digital, is likely to suffer the same consequences.

At the moment, the industry is suffering from transient client/agency relationships. And, many agencies have not yet fully integrated their digital resources.  The average tenure of a newly hired agency is three years.  One has to at least wonder if the current selection process deploys all of the knowledge and tools necessary to assure that the best agency is being selected. Given the forces of future shock it’s time to review the review.

The Media Playbook is available on Amazon