The agency landscape has evolved significantly since I first ventured into advertising 15 years ago. Gone is the ubiquitous 15 percent media commission, the three martini lunch and the simplicity of set methods of reaching your consumer. Evolution in outdoor; radio consolidation; collapse of print and traditional classifieds; cable, satellite and channel proliferation; event marketing, word of mouth and product placement emergence have all greatly impacted the advertising landscape. It was, however, the advent of digital that has caused the major shift in the functional structure of advertising agencies.
Interactive versus traditional
Interactive agencies are different than traditional agencies. They are different in the way they are structured and their models for profitability. But at the end of the day you hire both to come up with great ideas-- ideas that move your brand forward.
Types of agencies
There are several types of interactive agencies. The most common is the integrated interactive agency. These interactive agencies are great for companies that don’t have the time or inclination to separate their offline advertising from their online advertising. You get it all through one agency and you get an integrated and consistent message across both media.
The other type of interactive agency is the specialist shop. Such shops work with your offline agency, but they are totally focused on online advertising and the digital channel. If you think online is critical to your brand's success, then these are the agencies for you.
But both agencies are very different from your ad agency. Their budgets are smaller and thus, they have very few, if any, resources totally dedicated to one brand. The effectiveness of their work can and should be measured much more stringently than traditional media advertising.
Online agencies can show ROI to their clients, much more so than traditional agencies. Clients should be using measurement tools to judge the effectiveness of their interactive agency and to constantly improve the effectiveness of their ads.
With that said, here are some tools to measure how well your interactive agency is working with you. If you need to replace your agency, ask yourself some of these questions. Many of the answers may seem to contradict each other, or even be internally inconsistent.
They are, intentionally.
There is no magic formula, no 10 secret steps for working with your interactive agency or for finding a new one for that matter. The relationship may be sour, personalities can clash, you could have inherited a bad team, bad work or your own structure may clash with theirs.
It is up to you to decide which questions and answers apply to you. They are a coloring book: it's ok to color outside the lines.
Remember, it's a relationship. Treat it with respect and it will reward you.