Magazine article Marketing

New Media: One-Stop Shopping

Magazine article Marketing

New Media: One-Stop Shopping

Article excerpt

Clients are shifting from niche digital specialists to hire full-service shops able to provide an integrated service, writes Greg Brooks.

As digital media become more important to brands, new media agencies are evolving into communications agencies. The days of the specialist are not over, but clients are expecting more from agencies as their understanding of the market and online consumers improves. This means agencies are expected to be experts in everything from creativity to online advertising and site build to e-commerce.

Today's new breed of full-service agencies claim to offer a more honed proposition than their predecessors. They are no longer only internet experts but online consumer experts. But do they have all the answers for brands and e-tailers?

James Brooke, client partner at Framfab UK, says his agency is seeing more business due to its customer-centric approach. 'Clients use us instead of a systems integrator or traditional agency because we understand the consumer,' he says. 'We can drive traffic to the site and facilitate customer interaction when they are there. The thinking is joined-up from the start: we can link the advertising messages and technology with the customer's point of view and user experience.' He believes this is important to e-tailers who want to maximise returns from the often costly development of websites.

Vital proposition

Phillip Hunt, chief executive officer of communications agency Wheel, says a full-service proposition is vital when working with e-tailers: 'We want to interact with clients all the way through the traditional marketing cycle - you need a full-service proposition to do that.' The agency develops relationships through initial engagements, which lead to further business. 'Once you have an understanding of the client's business, if you have the expertise, you have to be the best place to go to obtain customers,' he points out.

Brewing giant InBev hired Wheel to back the global roll-out of Brazilian beer Brahma. Wheel's task involves developing an integrated digital campaign for as many as 15 markets. Rob Bruce, communications manager at Brahma, says InBev opted for a single agency to enable it to better understand the brewer's business and deliver more effective communications.

'As the agency gets a stronger sense of the brand, it is in a position to deliver the best communications, rather than having several agencies trying to work to a single idea from different angles. In an increasingly digital world, it is important to have one voice when it comes to all digital media,' says Bruce. 'It is also an effective business practice to have one point of contact for the brand in the digital medium, as it allows better communication between the brand and agency.'

Heidi Noujeim, head of strategy and planning at Agency.com, says full-service agencies have to consider the bigger picture. 'If you're not handling all the process, you're not accountable,' she says. 'We don't always deal with advertising and site design, but we are always thinking about it.

We talk to the client and sell on an idea that integrates with other channels.'

Perfect partner

Ajaz Ahmed, chairman of interactive agency AKQA, whose clients include Orange, Nike and Visa, says that when clients find the right agency, it should result in a significant return on their investment. 'The right agencies have a deep understanding of the client's business environment, an ability to connect with the client's customers and, most importantly, the track record to deliver,' he argues.

Though large agencies advocate the full-service proposition as offering the best service for businesses selling products online, there are some notable specialists, such as glue london, an independent agency known for its online advertising; Dare Digital, also an independent (though BBH has a minor stake), which is highly thought of for its creative skill; and i-level, which is a pure-play digital planning and buying agency. …

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