Digital & Traditional Agencies; The Differences.

I’ve written posts in the past about the differences between digital agencies and more traditional Ad agencies – both claim to be leading the way with innovative communication methods (online or otherwise). So, I thought it was about time I opened the floor on this and asked a few industry stalwarts to chip in – these guys have been living and breathing agency life since before I was donning my graduation cap, so pay attention.

First things first, I’m not going to get bogged down with who comes up with the better ideas – or even start to talk about that magical word ‘creativity’ – that opens a whole world of different arguments. But here goes:

  1. The attitude. Phil Adams (Ex BBH, Leith and now Managing Partner at Blonde) explains how  Digital agencies are naturally collaborative – Digital people share and talk openly in the expectation that doing so will make things better’ and ‘They also embrace the idea of launching something, then perfecting it.’ Whereas he explains traditional Ad agencies can be more closed and insular in terms of generating ideas, building to a ‘supposedly’ perfect big reveal.
  1. The budgets. Jerome Cortial (Ex Glue, BBH, Weiden +Kennedy and now Strategy director at Saint London) places massive emphasis in the hard cash that different ‘types’ of agencies get hold of: ATL (above the line) agencies have big budgets. They can afford time to think, plan and execute.’ But on the other hand he explains: ‘Digital agencies are built on speed – Briefs need to be written in hours, creative ideas cracked within a few days’.
  1. The ideas…Digital is NEVER an add on. Keith Martin (Ex WCRS, BBH, Albion and now Business Director at Work Club) will try and claim this one – but I also want it for myself. Look at any agency nowadays that answer a client brief with a TV, Print or PR idea and doesn’t show how it lives and breathes online in its own right, and you’re looking at agency that won’t be around for much longer –  Some traditional ad agencies are still guilty of this sin, adding the ‘bolt-on’ digital layer of an idea just to tick the box.

So there are many other differences to add to my list, and I may well run this into a second post later down the line. Things such as agency culture, how ideas are sold in to the client, the ‘rock star’ effect and the key difference in talent that’s attracted to certain types of agency.

But studying the responses I received to the original question – I keep coming back to my original thought – putting all the differences to one side, and I’m in agreement with all of the above (some I’ve seen more clearly than others) – all agencies, no matter what their industry pigeon hole, should just be concentrating on creating communications that capture the imagination of our digital-dependant world.

Thanks to all who contributed, if not mentioned above you certainly added to the thinking here.

digitalagencyblog.com

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6 Responses to “Digital & Traditional Agencies; The Differences.”

  1. neilpotter Says:

    The ‘Rock Star Effect’ – great post by Phil Adams – check it out here: http://philadams.tumblr.com/post/204907516/who-are-the-rock-stars

  2. Ben Carter Says:

    Totally agree that it shouldn’t be about the channel and should instead be about the idea and how to amplify through the different channels but have to disagree on two things. The big difference in the case of the majority of ad agencies vs digital agencies is that ad agencies aren’t set up to think like digital agencies. They are channel obsessed – mainly still traditional and their business models just aren’t set up for digital. The joy of online is it’s cheap to do, quick to test and equally quick to remove if necessary if not working and ad agency commercial models struggle to adapt to this- in my experience anyway.

  3. neilpotter Says:

    Completely agree Ben – when you say they’re not set up to think the same way, I think that overlaps with their general attitude as well.

    And true, channel obsessed may another difference – But isn’t the client who briefs a digital agency the one who’s dictating the channel in the first place?

  4. John Hondroulis Says:

    Agreed. I think the hardest part is keeping digitally inexperienced (or even worse, thinks he/she knows digital) Account Director taks a client down a “rabbit hole”. The digital team needs to be at the table from the beginning.

  5. Tweets that mention Digital & Traditional Agencies; The Differences. « The Digital Agency Blog -- Topsy.com Says:

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  6. neilpotter Says:

    Thanks John, you’re right. It’s so important to have the right technical people involved from the out-set on any digital project…It’ll end in tears if the account team are over promising what can’t be backed up in reality.

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