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The Death of the Digital Agency?
Many of us still think of our digital strategy in terms of online channels, covering website, search and social.
Ten years ago this way of thinking was fine. As new channels emerged, agencies simply analysed them, built a separate team around them and integrated them into their overall full service digital offering.
This strategy worked well up until about five years ago when doing things in digital was easy. Back then channels were channels, content was just words or video and everyone knew their place. SEO team built links, targeted individual terms and could see everything they did in analytics. The social media team was probably a junior in the office who dabbled in Facebook and Twitter. And designers and developers, well they built websites, nothing else.
Fast forward to today and those heady days seem but a distant memory. Today, consumers browse the internet from phones, televisions, tablets, cars, watches and glasses – sometimes, several of these at the same time. And they could be anywhere – in their house, the street, the train and even the sky.
Right now there are actually more “things” on the internet than there are humans. Right now, trains, MRI scanners, fitness devices, pacemakers, light bulbs, bicycles are all connected and talking to each other. Talking to you. Talking to the cloud. Not just storing information in the cloud but analysing it in real time and comparing you against others – in other words, learning.
Welcome to the future. Welcome to the age of hyper-connectivity. Hyper connected means digital silos are rendered meaningless – this is a post channel, post content, post device universe where nothing is how it was.
Interesting times. Certainly interesting times for traditional full service digital agencies. Agencies need to continually evolve and move with the times, and they simply can’t afford to think in digital silos anymore. Now is the time to invest in innovation teams to ensure that they are on the edge of emerging technologies for their clients.
Any campaign also needs clever strategy in order to push messaging and create conversations with desired audiences. By investing in non-traditional talent pools, agencies can create an environment that creates and produces ideas. Ideas that take advantage of, and proliferate in, this new connected ecosystem.
So what does all this mean for businesses?
To meet this new world head on, organisations must adapt, and quickly, or face being left behind in an ever changing landscape. They need to reshape their digital functions and align roles and responsibilities away from functional channels. They need to devise a data-driven strategy that communicates with their audiences focusing on the devices they will be using, where they will be and their likely motivations.
Let’s be clear. This is not about channel marketing and not about websites. This is about businesses creating ideas and building platforms for conversations. Conversations that listen, learn and engage like nothing we have ever experienced before.
This is the reason I love digital. It forces us to rethink everything.
Garry Hamilton is business development director and co-owner at Equator.
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