Ahhh… remember the days when the ad agency was the place to be. When the Mad Men were at their peak. That was pre-Internet, of course. When marketing a brand was more about the logo and the language in an ad than anything else. Then the Internet stormed in with the ferocity of a Category 5 hurricane, and things began to change – dramatically. The rise of digital design firms and funny terms like “user experience” and “search engine optimization” began to infiltrate our society, dawning the advent of the digital agency.
While that Category 5 is no longer, the fierce winds of technology continue to impact every touch point with customers. How we view brands has certainly changed because, well, the nature of brands has changed. Brands are more experiential, not just on the web, but because of the web. And now, marketing and technology are forever an integrated part of the marketing mix.
What Does This Mean for “Digital Agencies” and “Ad Agencies”?
It is not that digital agencies and ad agencies in general do not serve a purpose in today’s market; they do. Many of these firms are very successful and will continue to be so. Most have been forced to adopt a level of technical capability, with some even delivering integrated mobile apps. So, what is next on the horizon for ad agencies, digital design agencies and marketing firms? Who wins as technology continues to evolve and Internet and IP communications completely infiltrate our lives?
This Is How We See It
Like any product, service or industry, to stay competitive and grow, agencies must also evolve. We believe that the firms that will offer the most value to their clients are those that can transform into full-fledged marketing technology agencies. Let’s be real. Traditional services, such as media planning and buying, are no longer a sole specialty of the ad agency. They can be easily contracted or bought in partnership with your clients if needed. But, the combination of expert marketing and technology skills is essential for professional service firms to flourish.
Branding will always be essential to any company, but understanding experiential branding and the impact of technology on communicating your brand is critical. The power of creativity, in our opinion, is never going away. However, creativity now must extend to technology. Imagine that job description of the creative technician, one that is highly demanded and necessary in today’s work environment. Yes, that’s right: today’s creative people also must possess some understanding of technology.
The point is almost every aspect of marketing is dependent upon technology, and the firms of the future must possess an equal mastery of marketing and technology. We don’t just mean the ability to build a website on Drupal, develop an iOS application or even draft a compelling Facebook post. Marketing mastery is achieved by knowing that marketing and technology cannot happen without the other, then embracing this knowledge to serve the needs of companies and consumers. How well does your marketing partner understand technology, or better yet, how well does your technology partner understand marketing?