Marketers looking beyond tradition for online agency expertise

Just as marketers realize they need to shift substantial parts of their ad budgets online, they’re also looking for expert help to manage these campaigns. Should a marketer stay with its 245549_clocktraditional agencies and maintain consistency? Or would it make more sense to hire a new agency staffed with people who have proven successes in the digital world?

A recent Forrester survey covered this topic by querying nearly 100 large companies. Here's an overview of the findings.

Most of the surveyed senior managers are worried about their traditional ad agency's ability to take care of digital campaigns. When asked if they thought their agency could plan and manage interactive online campaigns, here's how they answered:

  • Yes  23%
  • No 46%
  • No opinion 31%

These findings indicate that marketers might be willing to let digital agencies take on more responsibility. But specific findings aren’t quite so positive. Here is the breakout of responses to the question about whether a firm’s digital agency is ready to take over tasks such as brand direction:

  • Yes: 22%
  • No: 33%
  • Neutral: 45%

This state of business has been labeled “the great race” by Forrester. "We see digital becoming the backbone of marketing and technology becoming so vital that everyone needs digital capabilities," said Sean Corcoran, an analyst at Forrester. "Everyone is coming from a different strength. Everyone is trying to add the other's capabilities."

Forrester also reports that marketers, at the very least, aim to work with one digital shop. But  fast-​changing technology means that new experts are constantly appearing on the scene and promising to help a firm maximize its effectiveness in e‑mail campaigns or social networking, or to assist in the deployment of the latest digital tool. As a result, almost 2 out of 3 companies are using 2 digital agencies, a situation which leads to higher costs and complexity. However, this situation also leads to opportunities for small shops that can deliver fast results.

Forrester analysts believe that some digital agencies may ultimately become lead shops while others may ride the specialty wave a while longer. Corcoran notes, “The whole industry is in flux.”

[Sources: Morrisey, Brian. “Great Race,” AdWeek, 12.08.09; Corcoran, Brian, The State of Interactive Agencies, Forrester Research, 12.07.09]
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.