Is the Digital Agency Dying?

Is the Digital Agency Dying?

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A recent article in the Wall Street Journal quoted Forrester Research as saying that the “digital agency” will face its demise in 2024.

As in the direct mail era, talent that specialized in a new medium was in demand, but then mail campaigns were replaced in part by digital marketing and most full-service agencies began offering mailing and e-mailing expertise as part of their core offering.

Digital media is here to stay. But it’s no longer a free-standing specialty.

Great agencies and marketing companies will need to “up their game” in terms of digital savvy, AI, analytics, and other services that clients need today. Integrated marketing and the client experience are more important than ever.

We believe that clients with substantial budgets will continue to engage multiple agencies and creative resources, based on their marketing challenges.

Agencies are already starting to claim that they are “AI specialists,” although the reality is that AI is a tool that will fuel all aspects of digital and conventional marketing. AI is not, in and of itself, a marketing medium — it’s an enhancer of all aspects of marketing.

So, just as the term “digital” is becoming redundant, so may AI in the not-too-distant future.

At the end of the day (no matter what day and what era it’s in), the reality is that rather than focusing on the term digital agency, the focus should be on what great MULO (multi-location) brands and businesses need today, which is:

  1. A thorough understanding of their prospective customers and markets
  2. Flawless and unique experiences at their points of sale (physical or digital) at all phases of the transaction process. An omnichannel marketing strategy.
  3. A clear and compelling brand story (based on #1)
  4. Breakthrough marketing campaigns based on those big and little stories
  5. A broad and deep understanding of all forms of media and how each one is best applied to building awareness and growth
  6. Exceptional just-in-time analytics, so marketers (assisted by technology) know in real-time what’s working and what’s not, so they can spend most efficiently and deliver the best results.
  7. Above all, a team (internally and externally) that truly understands the company’s goals, products, and potential and continuously drives innovation and creativity to deliver results. Leadership that motivates those people to deliver their best work and invests in the right technologies and training to continue growth and success.

And, whether that’s one digital agency or multiple agencies, what they call themselves may ultimately be irrelevant.

Rather than jumping on the trend of the decade and naming or categorizing a company based on that, agencies would be best served to focus on what today’s and tomorrow’s clients need to prosper and deliver.

Nancy A Shenker, senior editor with Street Fight, is a former big brand (Citibank, Mastercard, Reed Exhibitions) marketing strategist and leader. She has been featured in, the New York Times and Forbes.