Monday, June 10, 2019

Death of the digital agency | Advertising Age

There’s a changing model today for agencies tasked with bringing creative ideas to market for brand customers, and it’s not the size of the agency that matters most.

Agencies that are winning have a new, technology-first mindset that they’ve fully integrated across their organizations. They’ve created new teams with web developers and creatives side by side, and in some cases, they’ve reimagined their entire model based on the idea that technology—not a new campaign or higher media spend—is the way of the future and their pathway to success. 

The reasons for this shift are both generational expectations and the fact that technology is now available to brands of all sizes. Younger generations expect more from digital experiences. Only by using new technologies like predictive personalization, voice or AI, for example, can marketers reach younger consumers, many of whom have never known a world without the internet. In order to integrate new technologies into their creative ideas, marketing teams need tech-savvy agency counterparts to help them.  

There’s also an urgency for agencies to unlock the equation of technology and creative, because their clients big and small are demanding it. Brands today are winning and losing based on their ability to capitalize on technology. Nimble creative shops are setting the bar higher for everyone else because they've made the leap from digital agency to technology agency and are winning new business.

The good news is, there’s still time to adjust. Here are three things you can start doing right now to better integrate technology into your creative shop.

1. Rethink teams

This doesn’t have to be a wholesale change or even a formal reorganization, but putting the right people in place so they can start ideating together is a necessary first step. What would it look like if you started building teams with a technology-first mindset? Who would you include? Creative technologists, a data analyst, a media specialist, a digital producer? From there you can layer on copywriters, designers and others whose skillsets help create the needed blend of technology and creative.

This combination of strengths is about creating memorable experiences that trigger emotions and drive interaction. The talents of creatives deliver on the emotional side, and the skillsets of technologists ensure interactions that drive ROI.

There’s also the benefit of speed, and the ability to reach audiences with increasingly short attention spans. Tech-first teams, by nature, experiment. Once they have an idea, they can spin up a site, amplify through media, and test the concept among small audiences. Tech-first teams are also wired to move quickly and constantly bind technology and creative together. 

2. Insist on utility

Beyond the ideas that lead to emotional, interactive digital experiences, it’s critical that every idea is useful. The digital experiences that resonate most with audiences are those with utility. Think about apps that let you order a meal and then track its delivery progress or websites that offer users interactive channels they can participate in. These experiences resonate because they add value to the social contract between brand and buyer in the form of transparency, which breeds trust.   

3. Embrace open source

Enabling your teams with open source technologies, which integrate well with one another and generally do not require licensing fees, is a concrete way to bring agility into your creative process and set yourself up for future success.

Building with an open source CMS like WordPress, for example, offers creative technologists a powerful starting framework for creating the types of digital experiences mentioned above. WordPress is highly extensible, and through a long list of plugins and APIs, it’s able to integrate with technologies well beyond its own ecosystem—a huge contrast from closed, proprietary systems with unaccommodating code.

The rise of the technology agency

If you’re going to keep up with today’s changing digital model, you have to reimagine the way your team works, focus on new projects with utility and do it quickly, with the ability to scale as needed.

If you believe every company in the future is going to need to be a technology company, isn’t it time to reimagine the definition of a technology agency? Are you ready to make the leap with your teams, your creative product and your tech stack?


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