Brands are looking for digital specialisation

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Marketers, looking for measurability and accountability, are continuing to shift their budgets to the digital space. Spending on digital marketing overtook print and radio spend some time ago. More recently, a report from ZenithOptimedia suggests that digital advertising spend will overtake TV as the top marketing category in Australia for the first time this year. So while the budgets are quickly “going digital” the marketers in change of those budgets are increasingly looking for the skills needed to execute digital marketing well.

The “Digital Marketing Outlook” report, released in March this year by the Society of Digital Agencies (SoDA), suggests that digital marketing sophistication is continuing to grow both within agencies and in their client companies. The report attracted over 814 respondents, 84% of which were key decision makers. Of the respondents on the client-side 28% indicated they were going to be increasing agency investments. But there is a shift towards specialisation. 29% of the client-side respondents have a roster of highly specialised digital agencies, in fields such as search, social or mobile, and a further 23% maintain a mix of full-service and specialised agencies.

Traditional full-service agencies are very aware of this shift in demand. In the same report almost one-third of the full-service agency respondents said they thought specialisation was the path to growth. This suggests that agencies can see the writing on the wall and are beginning to reassess their business models.

“Innovate out of house” and “maintain in house” is the way that many clients are approaching risk and cost minimisation on the digital front. Tim O’Neill, MD of digital agency Reactive said that “we’re seeing a trend both in Australia and our International offices that clients are building internal skill-sets, but looking for partners to work in a more collaborative manner than a traditional agency–client relationship”

One skill in particular that is currently sought after is Customer Experience (CX) consulting. Speaking on this topic Tim O’Neill said “marketing teams are becoming more and more aware of the importance of the customer experience in digital campaigns, and considering how investment in CX can help to save money in media spend. I believe the huge rise in CX conversations is directly related to the rise in understanding of analytics & data. Marketers are now well-versed in measuring and optimising conversion rates, which is generally a direct reflection on how good the customer experience is.” He believes this is because clients are moving “…away from short-term campaigns towards digital platforms.”

Nothing could be more true in my opinion. Brands are looking for ways to move away from creating more noise and towards developing more meaningful long term relationships with their customers.

But the client-agency relationship is not driving this trend. It’s the consumers, you and me, that are moving in droves away from anything that is not relationship focused. What we are seeing is the business world responding to a huge shift in consumer behaviour – and it’s only just begun.

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