Creative agencies have been the custodian of their clients’ digital assets since Mad Men were driving Cadillacs down 5th Avenue and having a Canadian Club to clear the head.

After all, being the custodian of their clients’ material is key to delivering the greatest value. Through knowing what assets are on hand (and having them at hand) an agency can be knowledgeable, agile and proactive, not to mention economical and relevant in production approach. Right?

Well maybe once upon a time, but the marketing landscape has moved on, and with it, the client-agency relationship has evolved. Exponential growth in content creation, and an explosion in the number of mediums, platforms and channels that the client needs to service, have delivered complexity. Boutique marketing specialists have created great businesses servicing many of these new mediums – digital agencies, experiential suppliers, social media specialists, content shooter/editors. The digital revolution has created the agency village.

With this as the background, we find ourselves in an interesting place. Clients have an ever-growing pool of digital assets, and those assets are created and stored with numerous specialist agencies and producers all over.

If the digital agency wants to get some film assets as a campaign extension for online, they call the client, the client calls the agency, the agency calls the post house, the post house calls the production house. Then back through the chain – all at enormous cost for all parties in terms of time and money.

So what does this look like through the lens of a creative agency?

Put simply, they feel the brunt of this process – they remain the go-to partner for any client, yet have no remit from clients to develop systems that manage the entire creative village.

There are endless requests for assets to be shifted across the agency village, amid the underlying remit to be agile and proactive. The account service and production teams can’t possibly recoup the head hours spent on the asset hunt, nor can the client recoup the opportunity cost of head hours spent sourcing, hunting and shifting assets around this ever-growing village, rather than spent creating and going to market.

Why does that matter to the client?

In three words: activity, agility and freedom.

Teams grow, agencies come and go, creative partnerships are formed and dissolved, but the product of these unions, the fruits of the labour should be protected and cared for in an environment that’s immune to change.

That means a centralised, organised place that is owned and managed by the client, with the flexibility and functionality to be accessed by creative and production partners whenever and wherever.

The client becomes liberated to work with specialists of their choosing, without being tied to partners purely because they are the content custodians.

Ultimately meaning the right teams, can get the right messages into market faster, and that provides brands with an opportunity to outperform their competition and turn their content into a real business advantage.