Normally, after reading a Blog posting title like that, the standard response is, "here Mitch goes again..." It turns out that I have nothing to do with that statement, because it comes from a recent Forrester Research study, according to Advertising Age Magazine and the article, To Lead Overall Brand Strategy, Digital Shops Have Much To Do, which was published this past Tuesday.
"The report suggests interactive agencies are better positioned to take over brand strategy than traditional agencies because of the data and insight they are able to cull from interactive channels and because consumer behaviour is shifting toward such channels. But to get there, digital agencies need to develop four core capabilities, according to the report: measurement and analytics, audience research, cross-channel integration and social media."
Another fascinating turn of events and proof positive that most Consumer's first interaction with a brand or pre-purchase research is increasingly happening online. The focus of my keynote presentation at last year's Canadian Marketing Association National Convention and Trade Show was on this topic. It was called, Burn The Ships, with the idea being that Digital Marketers need to lead the advertising and branding direction in this day and age. The Web is a fully-immersive and an interactive environment (as you know). To take traditional advertising campaigns and adapt them for the Web is not pushing brands forward, but drawing them back. On top of that, because of the Digital Channel you can actually create compelling media content that supplements and compliments the traditional campaigns - creating stuff you can't do anywhere else.
"'Increasingly marketers are realizing that [offline and online] has to be integrated ... but interactive agencies have not yet proven they have the capability to manage brand strategy,' said Brian Haven, senior analyst at Forrester Research and the author of The Forrester Wave: Interactive Marketing Agencies."
That should not surprise you either and I don't read that as "bad news." From Human Resources to accountability, to the overall youth of the industry, to see this shift take place will take time and, as mentioned above, a higher level of engagement on the part of the Digital Marketing agencies. The Advertising Age Article continues to dissect which types of Digital Marketing shops seem closer to being able to make this transition happen.
There's a meta theme here that might hold some water: because engagement in Marketing, Advertising and Communications has become increasingly complex over the years, now, with the sudden uptake in Digital Channel usage, perhaps Digital Marketing shops do need to take control of Brand Strategy simply because of the multiple factors that are layered on to the chances of creating a successful initiative. Digital Marketing shops have to know more about the brand strategy and the consumer insights to create a winning campaign. With all of these moving parts, Digital Marketing agencies may well be on the cusp of leading the Brand Strategy as well.