Next month will mark the (gulp) 20th year of my tenure in "digital strategy." I started working on projects back in 1994 using Mozilla, Usenet, and WebCrawler as my guides. The World (its 2006 website is still live at www.std.com) was my ISP. We were still more attentive to CD-ROMs than graphical websites. Hair was still on my head, my dogs were not yet born, and my career was still developing. It was also 20 years ago, in 1994, that the first web design agencies — what became USWeb, Agency.com, and others — started to emerge.
I mention this anniversary, because, like other industries that evolve quickly, the concept of a "digital agency" has become somewhat of an anachronism, if not categorized properly. Specialized agencies that deliver digital capabilities are common, as are the digital or interactive practices within tradition creative, media, and consulting firms. Because of this new and more complicated mix of participants, marketers have shifted their agency relationships to more project based work, at more types of agencies, and with less long term commitment to any one firm.
In recognition of this evolution, I just published my latest report, titled, "The Next Act For Agencies: The Post-Digital Agency Landscape." In it, I define three types of strategic efforts marketers need help with. Where marketers need help, agencies join in. Specifically, there are three types of relationships and agency categories to support them, which help explain the future of the industry. They are:
- Innovators help transform the customer relationship.
- Integrators take brands and messages to all relevant media and touchpoints.
- Implementers do the heavy lifting to make sure sophisticated customer systems are put in place correctly.
To get a flavor of the detail within the report, see the article I wrote for Advertising Age here.
If you are a marketer, what is the project you need the most help with? If you are an agency, where is your sweet spot with clients?