Since the mid-2000’s, full-service ad agencies have been vacillating between keeping a wary eye on their new digital agency brethren and full sprints to catch up and surpass them. Why? Because research like the 2013 RSW/US Agency-Marketer Business Report showed (and continues to show) that clients intend to keep shifting more dollars to digital marketing and social media.
But here is why full-service shops can afford to stand down a bit and focus on making themselves more digitally centric versus trying to sell against the digital specialist agency.
According to RSW/US’ 2013 report, it seems both agencies AND clients agree that the digital specialist shop isn’t a really big threat to the full-service ad agency’s role as lead marketing voice.
How Will Digital Agencies Compete?
If you were asking yourself that question, then let me say this — you’re asking the wrong question. It’s not about, nor has it ever been about, digital vs traditional. It’s about remembering the role agencies used to play — strategic advisor. Go back and watch your Mad Men folks — while yes Don Draper is selling creative, he and the rest of the agency is using strategy to sell it. They’re solving the friggin business problem.
And that is what clients clearly want but I can tell you from my work with clients as a digital strategy advisor — they’re not always feeling like they are getting it. Clients never wanted to hire digital specialists but full-service shops gave them no choice. At the end of the day the client is charged with growing the business or lose their job. And these days, they’re looking for agency partners that feel that pain and ensure it never comes to fruition.
The Future of Agencies
A few years ago I penned a piece for Advertising Age predicting the future of advertising agencies and the various roles different agencies would play. If you go download the RSW/US Study (and you should) you’ll see that in the end, what clients want is a marketing partner that can see the entire playing field — traditional & digital. They want the C Agency of the future as I called it in my Ad Age piece. It’s not an easy place to get to because you need that rarest of breeds — the Uber-Suit, but if you can cobble together a few of those chaps, combine it with outstanding project management and toss in a bit of mind-blowing innovative thinking — well then I’m pretty sure whichever kind of agency you are — you’ll be just fine.
And if you’re one of those clients desperately seeking and Uber-Suit that sees the entire field — digital & traditional — and understands how to integrate it all — contact Converse Digital now. We can help you.