Image for post
Image for post
Image Credits: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcdonaldc/

Digital is dead

The end of the digital agency as we know it

Tom De Bruyne
Nov 17, 2013 · 5 min read

Somehow most digital agencies ended up competing with each other for the little budgets

Being digital is the worst position to be in

So the big question is: What went wrong? Why did the digital agencies not live up to their promise? I think there are four reasons:

Solution 1: Creative agency for the digital era

The solution for digital agencies is to stop talking about digital. As long as we talk about digital, we are fighting a battle for recognition we can never win. Calling yourself digital means you’ll be perceived in the mind of your customer as Yet Another Niche Agency. As long as we call ourself digital, they will always need a display advertising agency, a media agency and a sales agency to complete the marketing mix.

Calling yourself digital means you’ll be perceived in the mind of your customer as Yet Another Niche Agency.

Some digital agencies have tried to escape this paradox, by reframing their core proposition from “digital agency” into “creative agency for the digital era”. They are placing their bets on the idea that having a digital DNA is the best asset for becoming the leading brand agency. To some extend this is a sound idea. There are however two fundamental problems with this line of thinking: 1) digital agencies lack experience in the traditional advertising game 2) they are trading one battle field for another: advertising agencies as such are having a very hard time in proving their relevance to marketers. In my opinion the “creative agency for the digital era” route is not the best escape route from the digital agency trap.

Solution 2: It’s not about digital. It’s about customer development

I think the only way out for an agency with a digital mindset, is to stay away from the medium debate — online vs offline, social vs display - and to start talking about the thing that goes beyond this debate. In the end, the job of every creative agency is to come up with ideas that influence choice and buying behavior and ideas that transform audiences into customers. Our job is to embrace everything that improves the conversion ratios for our clients.

In the end, the job of every creative agency is to come up with ideas that influence choice and buying behavior and ideas that transform audiences into customers.

Steve Blank, one of the biggest thinkers on startups has a beautiful and simple concept for this process. He calls it Customer Development. Customer Development is the method of developing a successful strategy through continuous experimenting, measuring, learning and adapting. The heart of this proces is to discover where to find valuable customers, and how to convert them into buyers, with the least amount of money and with the highest possible ROI. In this definition.

I. M. H. O.

The Editorial Page

Tom De Bruyne

Written by

Founder & CMO at SUE Amsterdam, a creative marketing agency with a geek mindset. Tedx Speaker, entrepreneur, @tomdebruyne tom@sueamsterdam.com

I. M. H. O.

The Editorial Page

Tom De Bruyne

Written by

Founder & CMO at SUE Amsterdam, a creative marketing agency with a geek mindset. Tedx Speaker, entrepreneur, @tomdebruyne tom@sueamsterdam.com

I. M. H. O.

The Editorial Page

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch

Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore

Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store