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People question the future of ad agencies, given the evolution away from “Mad Men” big ideas to a multi-device, multi-access-type environment where they need more technology and idea implementation. At Bolo 2010 in Scottsdale today, Forrester analyst Shar VanBoskirk called the environment the “Splinternet” (I like that).

VanBoskirk noted that we’ve moved away from single media buys to an environment that must be fed via multiple devices. On top of that, we have the rise of password protected content.

All of this is “hijacking” traditional marketing programs. It also lends to greater personalization and makes location and time of transaction more important. It also leads to an environment that is more driven by performance-based marketing.

Already, we’re seeing performance-based marketing at 58 percent. By 2014, Forrester projects it will be up to 66 percent. “Paid search introduces a new set of communications, rather than just adding another channel,” says VanBoskirk. Moreover, social media becomes a fundamental part of everything.

The impact on agencies is likely to be a major one. VanBoskirk expects some firms — especially more agile, smaller firms — to make an adjustment in order to compete against specialist firms. But many agencies will devolve into an “outsourced creative shop,” where they will lose their status as the agency of record.

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