COLOGNE — The media agency is changing. In a world where clients can do more themselves, or go elsewhere for services, agencies may be under threat. Michael Kassan thinks he has seen the future for a rejuvenated, more relevant model.

“We just completed advising AT&T … a month ago …on the largest single review in history, I believe, because it was a combination of media and creative,” says the CEO of cross-disciplinary media consultancy MediaLink.

“The unique thing … it was a truly integrated model of BBDO, Hearts & Science, all within the Omnicom family, but the message that AT&T (had) … was to put data at the center, have that data layer informing creative decisioning and media decisioning.”

AT&T’s decision to consolidate affects a media spending budget estimated at $2bn. Omnicom reportedly beat out WPP, Grey and MEC.

Kassan, whose firm offers agency reviews, executive search, trade marketing and financial due diligence, thinks that is a big deal for Omnicom, but could be even bigger for the industry as a whole.

“If Omnicom get it right, there’s your new model,” he tells Beet.TV. “It’s a new bundle (of agency services).”

In the 1990s, there was a movement in agencies to unbundle integrated offers in to individual parts, Kassan recalls. But he calls the new AT&T and McDonalds accounts, in which DDB has created a standalone agency dedicated to the burger chain, “a precursor to what’s going to happen”.

Why is creative getting plugged back in to the mothership? Because that’s where advertisers’ greatest necessity is coming from – and that’s where competitive pressures are emerging.

As more publishers begin to build in-house content studios to service their advertisers with brand content, creative agencies are coming under pressure to prove their worth, Kassan says – but they can demonstrate value by aligning with media-buying siblings.

This interview was taped at DMEXCO ’16. It is part of a video series of industry leaders.  The series is sponsored by Videology.   For more Beet.TV coverage of DMEXCO, please visit this page.