If you know anything at all about the agency world, this new report tells you a whole lot of what you already know.
‘Agencies Don’t Get It,’ Survey Says
Feb 28, 2008
Clients are placing more emphasis on mastering social media but find their agencies ill equipped to help them succeed in that space, according to a new survey.
TNS Media Intelligence/Cymfony polled more than 60 marketers in North America, France and the U.K. to gauge how they are faring navigating the world of social media. It asked them for feedback on their agencies’ abilities to help. TNS found, in its words, “Agencies don’t get it.”
What’s the problem?
Clients complained that their agencies — creative, media, public relations, design and others — typically treat social channels like blogs as traditional media. In other cases, their ideas are not backed up by practical skills in the area. What’s more, one client pointed out that his agencies have little of their own experience using social networks or video-sharing sites for themselves. [Emphasis added]
In a way it’s just stunning that we can be this deep into the world of Web 2.0 and mobile without ad agencies – you know, those businesses that are built on creativity – would still be so far behind the curve.
On the other hand, maybe it’s not surprising, at all. Everybody makes a big deal about their creativity, but think about it – how many people and businesses do you know that are genuinely innovative? By that I mean how many of them do things that nobody ever did before? Taking what others are doing and finding a way to push some part of the envelope a percent further passes for creativity in our business culture, where even the most convention-bound drone in the most backward-looking legacy company pays lip service to thinking “outside the box.”
The truth is that even today, when we all live on “Internet time,” businesses are very, very slow-moving when it comes to adopting innovation. This is a growing problem when the pace of technical innovation outpaces the rate of adoption – that is, if the innovation curve advances at a rate of X but the rate at which companies adopt and master those innovations is X-1, it means we’re potentially facing a widening adoption gap. I don’t have any studies to point to here, but this seems to describe what I see in the area of communication practice. We are, I believe, further behind the curve than we were a year a ago, and we’re dramatically further behind than we were a decade ago.
One of the main reasons is that technological change is usually driven by younger, edgier elements of the population, and how many companies entrust high-level strategy to The Young & the Edgy? With respect to the agency world, we need to acknowledge just how conservative and conventional it really is. I wrote last year about how ridiculously slow agencies have been in developing mobile strategies, for instance, and when things that were being done successfully in 1999 are still viewed cautiously, you know you’re going to need to look for your new ideas somewhere else.
The message, of course, is that there’s tremendous opportunity for those who can help businesses develop social and mobile strategies and campaigns that take advantage of media use patterns that their customers have been engaged in for at least a couple of years now. Given how far off the pace most businesses are these days, the best news of all is just how easy it can be to get out in front of the rest of the pack.
We’ll see who gets it and who doesn’t, I guess….