If I held a party for the participating providers of our recently published Magic Quadrant for Global Digital Marketing Agencies it would prove to be a rather diverse, even eccentric bunch of people. The most common question I’d get: “Since when do IBM and Accenture compete with Wunderman and Ogilvy? And wait a minute – who are those guys from Portland? Aren’t they from Wieden+Kennedy? And who are those people from Meredith? Aren’t they publishers?”
All fair questions – and easy to answer. The technology types are moving onto the creative turf – and the creative types are becoming more geekish. Two providers, MXM and iCrossing – are owned by media companies. R/GA, with roots in advertising, brand and film production – has actively hired management consultants and ideation engineers, putting them on RFP lists alongside McKinsey, BCG — and Frog Design.
Digital marketing agencies are keen to become the ultimate right-brain-left-brain operation – a trend that’s been going on since the turn of the century, but one that has especially heated up in the past few years.
That’s because agencies no longer simply pair copywriters with illustrators. iCrossing for example, has a media lab in New York City that teams screenwriters with UX engineers – and storytellers with mobile app developers (to create experiences for banks, insurance companies – and rock ‘n roll musicians). Wieden+Kennedy, famous for its out-of-the-box ideation, now leads tech movements with its Portland Incubator and India Tube projects. The mother of technology, IBM, delivers creative services for demanding clients such as Wimbledon, Tiffany & Company, and My Coke Rewards. Razorfish teams its UX engineers with business strategists to help Delta Airlines executives solve business problems they wouldn’t have forseen five years ago. Technologists at SapientNitro help customers at Bed, Bath and Beyond visualize how various configurations of products will come together in their homes – while AKQA works with Audi to develop the “fifth screen.”
It’s nexus of forces at work as social, information, cloud and mobile join to create the ultimate user experience. But in a digital world where information is always available and always on – the providers must deliver more than great creative that users will want to look at. To win awards and win business they need to deliver interactive brand experiences that customers will want to talk about – and share.
It’s a party you won’t want to miss, especially if you’re a marketing executive that hires external agencies to help you create the big idea.