It’s always a good laugh when TVs or movies depict what the future will look like and then we actually get there in real life.

Last year, we reached the year that Back to the Future took place. But as the true 2015 came and went, there were no signs of holographic advertisements, flying cars, self-lacing shoes or hoverboards.

Or if you’re a fan of King of Queens, there’s an episode where the main character, Doug, envisions himself in the future flying to work on a personal jet pack. That time has come and gone, too, and there’s no sign of people commuting to work on jet packs.

It’s easy to get excited for the future and envision more than what is actually possible. But in the world of marketing, the future doesn’t need to be 20 or 30 years in advance to see major changes. Growth takes place daily, and the scene can change drastically in a matter of a few years.

Many marketing agencies are already thinking about what the future will look like for them in 2020. What skills will they need to possess? What will their clients expect from them? How will they separate themselves from the pack? Will their current services even be relevant?

Where Marketing Agencies are Expected to Grow

Already, there have been many advancements that have changed the landscape for today’s marketing agencies. But there are still limitations that agencies face, and we can expect to see them working on these shortfalls in the next few years. Let’s take a look at what a few of them are.

  • Marketers are using more than a dozen different tools to manage campaigns and data. While it’s nice to offer a variety of services to clients, marketing agencies are finding that a lot of their time is being spent on managing these resources. Also, it’s possible that clients have relationships with multiple agencies rather than just one.

  • Marketing technology has become more sophisticated in recent years. It has the ability to track ROI, streamline and automate tasks, personalize and target messages and more. Unfortunately, there is still a learning curve that some marketers never get over.

  • More brands are creating in-house agencies because they want the control over their content, which is the backbone for modern marketing. Content is less intrusive and mobile friendly. Also, with ad blocking technology, advertising is going to have to be more about content and less about traditional ads.

What Will be Expected of Digital Agencies in the Future?

Solutions Rather than Services

In order for digital agencies to accommodate their clients’ needs and create successful service models, they will need to change some of their operational ways. For example, Many agencies do a great job of providing their clients with what they ask for. They may work weekends or stay up late to finish projects. But what clients are wanting – and going to want more of – is solutions.

Pricing Based on Results, Not Hours

Many digital agencies are going to have rework their entire framework to accommodate this change because they are at odds with each other. On one hand, agencies want to make money, and they do this by creating complex plans that involve more hours. On the other hand, clients want efficiency, and they want their dollars spent wisely.

Transparency in How Results are Created

Marketing agencies have been able to get away with a lot of this over the years, but this is changing. (Consider unethical SEO agencies that have charged their clients money with no real guarantees about placement and no transparency about their practices). While agencies won’t need to share all the details (they are in business, after all), their clients will expect to be treated as a partner rather than an in-the-dark customer.

Does anyone really know what 2020 will look like? Nope. Who knows, we might even have shark-eating holographic ads by that point in time! What we do know is that the future is always right around the corner, so it’s important not to be blinded by the successes that we are enjoying right now.