Digital marketing is broken… well at least the service model is.

I feel sorry for smart marketers in need of digital marketing advice today. Let’s face it, the digital (web, internet, online etc.) service model isnt designed to provide clients with good advice…
well, not unattached or impartial advice anyway. The model serve the agencies own needs, putting its own revenue ahead of that of its clients.

Unfortunately Australian marketers are short of options – taking a punt on their ad agency or seeking assistance from a ‘web agency’. Experience shows that both options have tended to leave them short a ‘few quid’.

Ad agencies in this country, despite their claims of integration, are anything but that. They are not media neutral. For most, ‘digital’ continues to be a last minute add-on – after they’ve sold the TVC concept to the client. They are generally creatively driven, more interested in their agency reel and
creative awards than actually leveraging the channel (integrated or not) to impact sales.

Web agencies on the other hand can be divided in two – design or technology specialists. Generally not as polished as an ad agency, a web design agency is focused on the aesthetics of a website (once
again, awards and aesthetic beauty are front of mind) whilst a web development agency will focus on ‘cutting edge’ technology – often technology for technologys sake.

Most of these agencies offer advice to their clients based on their revenue opportunities. Theyre completely biased, and they have to be. They have invested in staff that make websites and
cannot afford to have their builders (designers, creatives, developers etc.) sitting in studios twiddling their thumbs. Therefore their advice will be to make something and, coincidentally, the recommendation will be to make something that the agency has capabilities in.

That’s not to say that there aren’t some genuinely good people working within these agencies, but most have their hands tied. They work in environments where they spend much of their
time lobbying their own management to stop putting creative or technology before their clients’ business outcomes and giving them half a chance to ‘show their wares’ (tip my hat to those who actually fight for their clients, wherever you may be).

Let’s face it. The digital service model is broken. It should offer its clients a lot more value than it is currently giving them. It should be more accountable for the advice it gives marketers. It should appreciate that marketers are not stupid. It should acknowledge what marketers know: that for the most, they are not receiving value.

The model needs to separate the marketing (or strategy) from the implementation (or execution). It needs to take an unbiased approach to strategic advice, and provide execution excellence when its time for implementation.