The Next Generation of Digital Marketing Agencies

A few weeks ago I was listening to an interview with the President of a digital marketing agency conglomerate and heard the following:

“You think, what do I want the consumers to do, and then you plan your campaign from there.”

Here’s how I would rephrase the comment:

“You think, what do consumers want to do, and then you plan your campaign from there.”

Subtle difference in language.

Huge difference in thinking.

Digital marketing agencies have now been around for about a decade. Most still nurse the nipple of display media and website design. They have a certain way of thinking about marketing. It starts with thinking about what they want people to do, a thinking exemplified by the very idea of Creative Directors and Information Architects.

With the massive and continued growth of technology and the coming ubiquity of search a new-breed of Digital Marketers are emerging. We work on delivering relevance based on what the user wants to do. We are innovative and strategic both in creative design and our use of technology. We cut our teeth in analytics, measurement, optimization, APIs and algorithms while keeping the best qualitative methodologies at our disposal. We execute on ads, pages, content or links and through every digital channel. We track, monitor, and optimize both the spend side and the sell of the equation in real-time. We are always laser focused on brand, what it means to the consumer and how it can be leveraged to drive results. At the end of the campaign we are always looking for ways to iterate and improve performance because our success is measured by results.

Colorado_deltaThis strategic delta was further defined by recent comments from Tor Myhren Executive Vice President, Executive Creative Director, Leo Burnett Detroit as reported by Marshall Sponder. While on a panel at Virtual Worlds 2007, dubbed “The Future of Marketing and Media” he was assessing the value of Pontiac’s recent Second Life initiative. He said, “We’ve sold 7,000 Pontiac’s in Second Life but how many have we sold in real life? I have no fucking idea.”

At the very least the good folks at Leo Burnett should be measuring how many Second Lifers are going to They should even know what models they are looking at once they get there and if they are coming back. They could find out the DMA’s they are coming from and provide data to their dealer networks if there are meaningful clusters. They could even be tracking if they filled out a lead form. The technology exists for all of this. When Tor says “It’s old school Branding campaign run in a new way,” I say it’s only the medium they’re using that makes it a new way. What really needs to be new is the method.

These methods are where marketing is headed for everyone. It presents a huge challenge for the old guard and a huge opportunity for the new. A.G. Edwards recently commented on this situation analyzing the advantage aQuantive has compared to traditional agencies and their digital brethren due to superior tracking, targeting and optimization abilities. Peter Kim of Forrester Research also recently produced a report on this technology and strategy gap and Friday Ellen Siminoff, CEO of leading Search Agency Efficient Frontier chimed in.

How much longer can marketers preach, hope and remain unmeasured? Not much longer. The uniquely democratic nature of the web is what has sparked this medium. It allowed Google to build a technology platform unrivaled in the history of advertising and marketing. It has fueled the rise of social media. Those of us that understand how to leverage this democratization with strategy, technology and measurement while at the same time being insanely focused on the impact of messaging and creative are in an enviable position as this medium continues to become only more intertwined with the everyday lives of consumers…and what they want to do.



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2 responses to “The Next Generation of Digital Marketing Agencies”

  1. Charlie Nichols - Avatar

    Hey Jonathan,
    Good thoughts… I’m thinking that as the people that are involved with creation of digital media evolve, so too will the medium. Most of the senior folks in this/related fields have very traditional training/experience. They have trouble with technology, they didn’t grow up with it. They don’t have fun with it.
    As the those that are really integrating digital media into their life are growing up now, they will start to drive new ways of thinking based on their radically different backgrounds. There won’t be any such thing as a creative director with no interactive experience… it just won’t exist. How many designers are there left that do everything by hand with a tsquare and grid paper? How many company logos/colors are different on different paper systems?
    Community and an integrated experience won’t be a “best practice” and an afterthought, but something that just happens because there really isn’t an alternative that is practicable.
    Anyway, glad I found your blog!


  2. Tod Rathbone Avatar

    But you have to give props to Zeus Jones for at least living the life when it came to marketing their company. I mean, I have been through I don’t know how many capabilities presentations done in powerpoint. Unless the new powerpoint from Office 2007 is a Web 2.0 application…


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