I can'te believe it – I was in Marketing magazine last month and I didn't pick up a copy. My mother is going to be mortified! Interesting article with some interesting opinions – very broad overview of the digital agency space.
Kylie Flavell: What types of things should a marketer be wary about and question from a digital agency?
Brett Rolfe: Everything. It’s sad, but the complex nature of the technology combined with the occasionally cowboy nature of the industry has meant that many clients feel they can’t be expected to understand what the agency is doing, and fear they will look foolish for asking and challenging. If that is the atmosphere an agency has created, you are working with the wrong agency. If you are struggling with an agency, bring in someone you trust – internal or external – to sense check what the agency is saying, to act as a digital translator. Sometimes the problem will simply be that many smaller digital agencies may not have the skills to explain things in marketing-centric language. Other times, the lack of communication may be more malicious.
KF: Marketers are faced with the option of going in-house, using boutique agencies, larger creative agencies, or even some 17-year-old freelancer who works from their bedroom. Are any of these options better or riskier than others?
BR: The difficulty is that it is often the niche agencies and 17-year-olds who can deliver the most innovative and surprising work. For that reason, many clients are exploring the idea of using agencies that can own the strategy and the big idea, but then bring in the best skills to fit any particular problem.
KF: In 2008 Online spend did not match eyeballs in the space – where do you see things heading in 2009?
BR: Eyeballs is a misleading term – it suggests that digital is a big broadcast channel just waiting for us to shove advertising into it. Eyeballs reading their emails, eyeballs playing video games, eyeballs reading their friends’ Facebook status – these aren’t the same as eyeballs sitting in front of primetime TV. One of the things holding back digital marketing is our insistence on viewing it through the lens of media that has gone before it, as Marshall McLuhan warned. Things are heading into ever-stranger territory – from social media and collaborative creativity to augmented reality and mobile gaming. Understanding how these technologies can be harnessed will require marketers and agencies to bring together diverse technical and cultural insight with sound communication strategy – but then, that’s the way it’s always been, really.