MIAMI — In changing times, when advertisers are being invited to buy media directly with platforms, rather than continuing to go through their traditional agencies, is the writing on the wall for the incumbent intermediaries?

In this video interview with Beet.TV, Havas Media Group North America president Shane Ankeney acknowledges “everyone is a little intimidated” by the disintermediation chatter.

But he says agencies still have a big role to play in counselling clients that are sometimes too pre-disposed to throw the kitchen sink at ad campaigns.

“Data coming in from anywhere, just because you have a lot of it doesn’t mean that you’re better with it or better at it,” he says.

“Many clients come to us and they bought everything, they’ve signed up for everything, they’ve brought in every tool. What we try to bring some clarity to and try to simplify is ‘What are the most meaningful data that we need to help drive their business?’, and that’s what we tend to focus on and we tend to help our clients focus on.

“We start off a relationship by just cleaning up, organizing and funneling all their data into one usable place so we can get the most out of it.”

The threat posed by platforms to agencies’ traditional place at the fulcrum of media spending is one driver behind the recent downturn in earnings and share prices of some agencies.

Ankeney isn’t the first to say that agencies can protect their place at the table by playing a stronger role as advisor and trusted friend.

But that imperative also comes at a time when changing audience preferences are forcing a re-think in how ads are conceived, created and communicated.

“Ultimately, what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to create advertising that becomes what people are interested in rather than simply interrupting what they’re interested in,” he says.

“I would rather see the industry move toward that to continue to create great content that consumers find compelling enough to actually want to watch, if not even seek out or give us permission to share with them rather than simply interrupting what they’re interested in.”

This video is part of a series titled The Road to the Digital Content NewFronts. It is a preview of topics to be explored at IAB’s NewFronts, which begin on April 30. This series is presented by Meredith Corporation. For more videos from the series, please visit this page.