RIP digital agencies?

Is the ‘digital agency’ dead?

VML’s Aden Hepburn’s recent article Fifty Shades of industry Grey talked about the competition amongst media agencies, creatives, digital houses and PR agencies for an every shrinking nmarketing budget. Which got me thinking – is the digital agency becoming redundant?

Witness DT recently rebranding from DT Digital (part of the STW Group). Deepend has repositioned itself as a creative communications agency. TheFARM has dropped “Digital” from its name. Does this mean the end of the digital agency as we know it?

Agencies now offer so much more than web development with services offered include:

  • Digital Strategy/Brand Development
  • User-centred Experience
  • Multiplatform Content Development/Content Creation
  • Front & Back end Development – now includes mobile, tablet
  • Trade/Channel Optimisation
  • Content Management/CMS
  • Database Integration
  • Content Distribution
  • Games Development
  • Ecommerce/Mobile Commerce
  • Consumer Insights/Research
  • Video
  • E-learning
  • Interaction Design
  • Information architecture & Visual design
  • Interface & Application Development
  • Project Management
  • Social Media
  • Search: SEO/SEM
  • Tracking & Analytics
  • Analysis/Auditing

There are probably more to add…

Then there are the technology platforms differentiators such as Augmented Reality, Near Field Communications,  Ecommerce and payment platforms, various development platforms and more. Digital agencies can sell direct to end-user clients/corporates, partner with other media and creative agencies, or provide dev skills to other digital agencies.

Maybe we need a new term? Newly arrived is the digital service innovation practice – is that a better description? Creative technology partner?

Which leads me to the next big question – how do we convey these capabilities to a client? How do we identify clients/users of digital services?

Aden’s point was that some non-technical agencies are now more desperate for work, and therefore encroaching on digital agencies’ turf, without having made the substantial investment in people, technology and processes required to deliver a great campaign or site. What is then delivered is grey, i.e. average work.

How can digital agencies take a bigger share of the marketing pie? His answer was for everyone to stay in their own backyard, and “work collaboratively to establish a seamless partnership”. I’m not sure it’s enough, but in the first instance it would be useful to see more examples of great work – so go out and promote yourself. Not enough do that.

(And some of those can be seen at the 19th annual AIMIA Awards on March 15 – see the list of finalists here)

About Claudia Sagripanti

Involved in the evolution of mobile marketing and advertising from the early years, including co-founding Mobile Marketing and Advertising Awards, founding chair of AIMIA's Mobile Industry Group, development of mobile advertising guidelines for industry as well as commercialisation strategy.