Posted March 29, 2010 9:21 am by with 11 comments

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Did you just poop your pants? Maybe a little bit?

You actually have nothing to fear, unless of course you do actually hope to remain the “interactive agency of record” for your clients. Not that they will no longer require your services, it’s just that a new Forrester reports says that the role will become obsolete.

You see, “the agency of record” will need to be able to handle both traditional and interactive marketing–the lines have blurred. If you’re not the agency of record, you’ll still have a role to play–even if it’s a niche role that your firm specializes in.

Fortunately, you still have some time to prepare for this migration. Apparently, there’s still so little overlap between the “big 5” agency types–advertising, direct, media buying, interactive, and PR–that companies are not going to be able to put all of their marketing eggs in one basket–at least not yet.

So what should your company look for in a marketing agency? Well, Forrester says we’re approaching the age of Adaptive Marketing. One that requires three core skills from the agency of record: ideas, interaction, and intelligence.

The report breaks down the definition and skillset of each, but I’ll leave you with an explanation of the intelligence component:

It is not enough for adaptive agencies to understand market research, ethnographic, or behavioral data. To fully understand customers, and to leverage that knowledge to improve customer experience, requires agencies to understand the interplay between the various types of data, and crucially, demands the ability to turn the data into actionable intelligence. What should you look for? Ask agencies to show you how they use customer data to drive decisions relating to everything from contact strategy to positioning and messaging to product ideation. As the VP of marketing at a national pizza chain pointed out, “Our brand is owned by the consumer. To be successful, we have to understand their passion points and hit them with relevant connections where they live, work, or play.”

  • Nah, I disagree.

    Why wouldn’t an agency either:

    A) Add the staff with required digital marketing skills

    B) Form strategic alliances

    C) Outsource work to partners/freelancers, essentially managing the relationships business owners are often unwilling or unable to maintain/hold accountable?

    Some agencies will sputter and decide to specialize, others will get with the game and build more valuable companies. It’s all just educated guesses anyways, right?
    .-= Social Media Commando´s last blog ..Rework Book Review =-.

    • It seems to me that you do agree. 🙂

      The agency of record will be one agency with skills/partners/contractors to handle both traditional and interactive. Is that what you are saying? Because that’s what I said. 😉

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  • I actually don’t think the interactive agency of record was ever a healthy model. There’s just too much fragmentation in the online marketing space, and it moves far too fast for big agencies to stay competitive (or relevant). The “agency of record” model is an old behemoth from the Madison Avenue days of marketing anyway – how could it ever make sense in today’s landscape?

  • The title of this article doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. A strong brand should have the 5 staple facets of marketing covered, and interactive is one of those. Obviously it depends on the clients needs and their options, but a good interactive agency can cover all facets of web design, development and online marketing. I also disagree that interactive agencies have “moderate” analytic capabilities. If an interactive shop doesn’t understand analytics and know how to optimize for conversions, they shouldn’t be in the running for any agency of record pitches!
    .-= Adam Hermsdorfer´s last blog ..Bing’s Online Marketing Launch Strategy =-.

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  • Completely agree – Ad Agencies as we know them today are a dinosaur looking for the promise land of food – doesn’t exist.

    This is a group that clearly doesn’t understand social media and hasn’t realized that the model of charging for ad services and marketing services is going by the way of the dinosaur. I talked to a large agency a few weeks ago and the emphasized they want people for the future that have an agency background first and then social media skills. This is why the word “Oxymoron” was created.

    Personally, I am anxious to watch the demise of the traditional agency as they have handicapped businesses for a long time. Finally they will be set free when they can use the tools of social media to become closer to their customers than they could ever do before with the help of an agency. Watch the evolution – the dinosaurs are running out of food…

    Blaine Millet

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