Agencies struggle to meet clients' digital needs

11 December 2009

CAMBRIDGE, Mass: The continuing growth of digital media has resulted in a "great race" to adapt between specialist and traditional agencies, but neither group is fulfilling the needs of advertisers at present, Forrester has found.

Forrester, the research firm, has produced a report aiming to assess how effectively interactive shops, and their more long-standing counterparts, are responding to the changing industry environment.

Sean Corcoran, an analyst at the Cambridge-based firm, argued "we see digital becoming the backbone of marketing and technology becoming so vital that everyone needs digital capabilities."

"Everyone is coming from a different strength. Everyone is trying to add the other's capabilities," he added.

The company conducted a survey of 100 interactive marketers around the world, and discovered that 80% of participants worked with at least one agency on their digital communications.

More than half of this group used two such partners, while 25% divided up their new media chores between three separate firms.

Despite this, over 60% of the panel said they would rather employ one such service provider to manage their various activities on platforms like mobile and the internet.

At present, a third of clients are utilising outside expertise from the ad industry when it comes to handling their social media initiatives.

One in four also look to their digital agency when developing their brand strategy, while 26% have requested offline creative work from this source.

However, Forrester found that just 22% of its sample regarded their interactive agency as being "ready to lead my brand", while 33% disagreed with this statement.

Similarly, only 23% of contributors believed their "traditional brand agency" was suitably equipped to head up their new media operations, with 46% holding the opposing view.

"We're all waiting for this big moment when a bunch of interactive agencies take over from the traditional guys," said Corcoran.

"It's not happening that way, it's a slow evolution. You'll see some interactive guys take over and some traditional agencies hold the fort."

Data sourced from MediaPost/AdWeek; additional content by Warc staff