Everyone knows the saying "keep your friends close and your enemies closer." It's an adage that's been good for the mafia and good for the battlefield.
But it can also be considered the new mantra of digital marketing, where the walls have come down. In their place, the digital marketing world is now linked through its own connective tissue. Marketers and experts attend the same conferences, share ideas on blogs, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and tweet about each other's work. That's why making "frenemies" has become a business imperative in this digital economy. Marketers can no longer operate in the old-school proprietary world where they cling to secrecy of ideas. In our age of transparency, you need to show me yours and I need to show you mine.
There are reasons for this shift. Thanks to the web, social media, and interactive relationships, anyone can be a customer and anyone can be a competitor, and sometimes they can be both. To serve a client, marketers often need to work with competitors. Such collaboration can be good for the customer and good for the bottom line.
But how, when, and where should you make frenemies in digital marketing? Let's look at examples of partnerships and some rules of the new wide-open road.
Agency to agency partnership
It's no secret that Twitter is the hottest Web 2.0 property in search of a business model. To help deliver on the microblogging service's massive reach, Microsoft pioneered one of the first advertising deals with Twitter earlier this year. The software giant's advertising agency, McCann Worldgroup San Francisco, developed "ExecTweets," a resource to help people find and follow top business executives on Twitter.
McCann Worldgroup created the service, in partnership with digital shop Federated Media, to aggregate and surface the most insightful, business-related tweets, said Marc Ruxin, executive VP and chief innovation officer for McCann Worldgroup San Francisco, a unit of Interpublic.
At first blush, Federated Media could be construed as a competitor to McCann. Both are agencies, both compete for digital dollars. But they're also partners.
"We've worked with Federated Media on a number of different projects in recent years and they are an excellent partner," Ruxin said. "At the same time, as a publisher, one could view them, in some ways, as a competitor. [Federated] is not an advertising agency, but some of its activities could be managed by agencies or media companies. This becomes more common as the lines between media/creative/production/digital blur."
How does an agency resolve the potential tension then?
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