Agency's are messed up because they are compensated to only do what they do best and that is spend money. There are lots and lots of great ways to speak to your audience and create interaction with a brand that do not require you to spend dollars against paid advertising, but that is not what agencies do. Agencies spend money. They buy ads. They buy search.
This new wave of opportunity lies in finding ways to get paid for what you know will work, such as build community and drive brand engagement. these are not items that fit nicely into an excel chart nor can you create them with an insertion order. That is why agencies are messed up.
The fall-out in the economy poses an opportunity for agencies to be re-invented. As ad dollars get squashed or become focused on accountability, agencies can re-allocate their dollars and save money for their clients if they put those dollars into creation of content and consumer interaction points rather than paid media. These are all typically referred to as non-paid media outlets and though there is a cost associated with them, it is still a dramatic savings from that of paid media placements.
I can't give away all of my thinking on this because that is my business, but suffice it to say that i have recently built a model that I think addresses these needs. I've put that model into action on a few businesses and it works. It's called a Behavioral Planning model and it integrates much from my past learning in advertising with my hypothesis as to how things work going forward. I am happy to share with anyone who asks, assuming they ask nicely!