The modern integrated agency has arrived allowing brands to get back to what they do best
It seems that for years I’ve been talking about the need for agencies to integrate digital more deeply into their businesses. For what seemed like the longest time, accounts, strategy and creative teams would work away, independent of the digital team. When the campaign was all but done, they’d tack on a digital execution and that was it. It was always so grating to see that happen, and surprisingly, it still happens today. But, over time, digital has proven its value and taken its rightful place at the table. Now, no longer an afterthought, digital has evolved from the days of simple Flash animations into a smart, creative, data-driven science that delivers real, measurable results able to provably outperform a standalone print or TV campaign.
Somehow though, somewhere along the journey, digital services became fragmented. The early division of digital disciplines led to the birth of specialist digital agencies. Some would work only on websites, others on SEO, perhaps another for SEM. Then, with the advent of the smartphone, came specialist agencies for mobile apps. Social media then paved the way for content agencies, and if you wanted anything traditional like print, TV or radio, there was another whole agency mindset to deal with.
Through this, there were a few of us on the sideline calling (even screaming) for sense to prevail and espousing the concept of the “integrated” agency. Bit by bit, people began to listen. People began to see the value – and, though it’s taken time, we’re now seeing a range of fantastic, truly integrated agencies come to maturity. These are the agencies that understand how much more powerful each medium can be when it coheres with the others. They can execute, measure and deliver more insights than ever before. Clients no longer have to engage and brief a whole battalion of agencies to get the results they demand, and now the ability to integrate marketing across channels is even expected.
Having started out in data-driven marketing and integrated marketing communications, it’s been rewarding to witness how, as agencies have been moving toward a truly integrated approach to execution, marketers have been realising how important it is to take a more integrated approach to campaign planning as well. Now, efforts are being replicated much less. Opinions about strategy, creative and messaging are less conflicting. And the golden egg of it all, measurement, is being treated with the care and reverence it deserves.
Perhaps not coincidentally, in this same time period we’ve witnessed marketers developing greater execution capabilities in house. Most agencies probably balked at this originally but from where I sit, this is evolution. It’s a sign of deeper integration, leveraging as much knowledge as possible from one place. 10 different teams working on your brand or product just makes no sense. There’s a real less is more sense to this change.
From the point of view of our agency, and a number of others I know in the industry, we’re now finding ourselves more able to focus on the areas where we deliver the most value; providing new directions, the best talent and state-of-the-art data and creative work.
The new age of marketing has been born, and I’m as proud as can be to be a part of it.