The evolution of digital agencies and a look into the future
It’s not surprising that the digital advertising agency arose from the digital marketplace. The massive advance in the speed of communication and the new ability to spread information worldwide in minutes, caught the traditional ad agency off guard.
What followed was an odd splitting of the advertising market. Digital agencies were mostly Internet specific and those who ran such agencies were often technologically savvy but had little concept of offline marketing, or even much knowledge of marketing at all. On the other hand, the traditional ad agency had more resources to draw on in the form of established client relationships and considerable marketing skill built up over years of experience, but was digitally illiterate. The two have now begun to meet halfway as digital agencies are beginning to add conventional offline actions to their portfolio, while offline agencies are beginning to develop “digital departments” and use IT as part of overall campaigns.
However, the biggest single problem with digital marketing is the sheer vastness of the territory. Social Media, SEO and CRM are just a few of the areas that agencies must be proficient in. And that proficiency requires being able to hire and hang on to the talent necessary to do these various jobs. The old model of trying to directly compete while headhunting talent isn’t workable in an environment where nobody, on or offline, can possibly cover every aspect of modern marketing.
Digital technology has the tendency to open so many doors at once that no one can possibly walk through them all. Fortunately, there is an already existing model that agencies can use to get the most productivity out of digital technology. That model was developed not by the advertising, but by the entertainment industry.
Look at the crawl of credits at the end of almost any Hollywood film and you'll see not only different people contributing to different parts of the film, but different groups as well. Special effects are not sourced to a single group, but are spread around to numerous groups, each doing what they are best at doing. It is their collective work that contributes to the completed project.
This is becoming increasingly true with other aspects of filmmaking as well. It would be economically and organisationally impossible for a single studio or production company to have all the needed skills and resources at its disposal to make a modern movie, and it is equally impossible for a single agency to have all the skills and resources at its disposal to run a complete and effective campaign in a modern multimedia environment.
Digital agencies may have evolved from the digital marketplace, but the future of marketing is more one of coordination than competition.