Nov 6, 2009

Why Digital Agencies Aren't Ready to Lead

Ana Andjelic wrote an interesting article for AdAge about "Why Digital Agencies Aren't Ready to Lead" She also blogs frequently about marketing. Here the main points from the article as I see them. What do you think?

  • Digital agencies know only about technical end of the game. They are not experts in marketing. What else can you expect if a person comes from the engineering world?
  • Clients are conservative when it comes to spending. Old and familiar is easier to buy rather than something completely revolutionary. "What if it fails?" Is often the question, not "What if it succeeds?". Sad, but true.
  • Credibility issues when dealing clients. While it's great to have fun, results and control calms CMO's nerves better. Social media is another jargon word if you can't prove how it brings in more money.
  • Creativity is still only valued on the agency side. Clients want results. Execution is more important than your ideas. Is your agency a doer or a dreamer? Can you prove it?
  • More geeks are coming into ad business. How are they familiar with marketing? What happens when you put engineers and artists under one roof? Who will handle the business? Does anyone anymore know (or care) how to sell?
  • The business model will not take care of itself. This lesson is sometimes hard for digital agency people to realize. Being cool doesn't guarantee sales.

There is also a vivid conversation going on around the AdAge story about digital agencies. Here are some of the juiciest parts for you:

"I don't know who these "digital agencies" you are referring to. I have a degree in art and design and I understand creative. I have also studied the evolving world of marketing for 10 years. I partner with my client for strategic business solutions. And I am programmer.

This article sounds like sour grapes to me. Though, you did a good job of hitting all the false stereotypes. I am not worried about you and the rest of the dinosaurs. This economic meltdown already has put a lot of you out of business. I don't think I have seen a single Web designer out or work." Username johnnance01

"Digital agencies ( production companies ) are not ready to leave as they do not understand branding. They are tacticians that do not have big idea thinkers. It's up to them to grab traditional talent or be eaten." Username alanm

"It would make for a great little column if James March's exploration vs. exploitation concept aligned neatly with digital vs. traditional, but it doesn't. Not by a long shot. Instead you end up creating artificial categories and then using them to mount sweeping generalizations." Username unsettler

The more I watch what is happening around the marketing industry, the more convinced I am that The Future of Advertising is Digital Direct Marketing. What about you? What do you think that is going to happen?

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