“Traditional” and “Interactive” Agency Functions Will Merge: Will Mobile?

As any market matures, “specialist” functions often become “generalist” functions. Forrester Research analysts therefore predict that today’s specialist “interactive agency of record” functions ultimately will fade away, and be combined with a single “agency of record” approach that allows a single agency to conduct all operations required for campaigns using traditional or digital media.

One might speculate on how long it will take for mobile marketing specialists to acquire such importance that mobile marketing likewise becomes a required capability of a full-service marketing firm. If mobile marketing grows at roughly the same rate as digital marketing has, one might expect a 10-year period before “talk” of such a development even begins, and an additional five-year period where it actually begins to happen.

After roughly 10 years of digital marketing, only now does Forrester Research even predict that consolidation will happen in the future. That is likely to be the case for mobile marketing specialists as well.

“We are entering an ‘adaptive marketing era’ where mass media is no longer the foundation of marketing communication, Forrester Research argues. That will force a change in core competencies any marketing agency is expected to deliver.

In practice, that means clients will not be looking for separate “interactive agencies of record” and “advertising agencies of record.”

Instead, clients will simply assume their preferred marketing agency can handle both traditional and interactive marketing campaigns.

But even this consolidation trend could take some time to unfold. Significant differences demarcate“big five? agency types, which historically have specialized in advertising, direct, media buying, interactive, or public relations.

Those distinctions might not consolidate quite so much. Still, it ultimately will not be enough for agencies to understand market research, ethnographic, or behavioral data. To fully understand customers, and to leverage that knowledge to improve customer experience, requires agencies to understand the interplay between the various types of data, and crucially, demands the ability to turn the data into actionable intelligence, Forrester argues.

Forrester argues that tomorrow’s agencies, aside from handling campaigns fo any sort, also will use customer data to drive decisions relating to everything from contact strategy to positioning and messaging to product ideation.

To the extent that brands increasingly are owned by consumers, it will be important for brand marketers to understand customer passion points and ways to connect with those customers using a variety of channels. As the newest developing channel, it is likely mobile marketing “agencies of record” will continue to exist as independent entities for quite some time.


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