Planning and buying ad space within an ecosystem that’s evolved from one-way communication to one in which consumers take part with blogs, social networks and the like, makes the job of media agencies, as one global CEO described it, “monumentally more complex than ever before.” They are now dealing with the challenges of integrating social, mobile and performance-based media like exchanges and search with more traditional media, while implementing the various tracking and tagging elements that go into the execution of integrated campaigns.
Add compensation to this pressure. The old pricing model revolving around front-end costs and paid media is still dominant, but Twitter, blogs and other forms of earned media play just as big a role in driving marketer performance, leaving media shops to feel stuck with clients who demand forward-thinking ideas but use an outdated compensation model.
And now, marketers are sorting through a host of providers, wondering whether they need different partners for mobile, search, social or banners. Marketers can choose from big digital agencies like Digitas, Razorfish, MRM or Tribal DDB, small independent agencies with a heritage in digital production, or a mainline agency’s digital arm.
Each classification of digital agency has its strengths — might it be global scale, raw creative prowess or synchrony with offline messaging — and no one shop has it all. Not to mention each has its specialists. For social media, the field is especially murky. Every breed of shop from public relations to digital and traditional are hiring social-media experts to bring their clients into that space, but marketers want to know who can do it best.