Friday, December 21, 2012

What is digital?

+ About a month ago, I was at a 2-day interagency session for a client. The goal was to come away with an integrated plan. We started off by doing some group work where there was a mix of clients and folks from different agencies. Day two included breaking out by channel. And that's where the confusion began. And, prompted me to write about it.

These days, digital is a term that I think has taken on the role as "traditional" terminology. It's broad, it has many things living under it. Yet, one of the things that sets it apart from "traditional" is that these days, many brands have different agencies owning different pieces of it. One agency for website, one agency for SEO, one agency for social, one agency for emails (mobile often becomes a undefined group). You don't often see this on the "traditional" side where different agencies are in charge of TV, radio, outdoor, print, etc. So, why do we see it in the digital space?

Anything that gets published to the web requires some kind of SEO. Posting to social networks now is also scraped by bots helping pull up results when someone does a search. Yet, it's often only considered as a piece when doing a website, or SEO campaign.

And that's just one example of this fragmentation that causes confusion. Another is social. Does it fall under PR/Media Relations? CRM? Digital? Who owns it? It all depends on the brand. In some cases, multiple agencies and/or brand groups touch social at the same time.

It's a weird thing that digital has become so spread out and specialized in and among itself.

Personally, I think too much agency fragmentation is a bad thing, especially if the goal is integration. It creates issues of coordination on the brand side. Getting agencies to play nice can be complicated. And, there can be complications with budget issues (which can also effect agencies playing nice).

Rethinking how marketing and advertising works overall requires brands to internally restructure. It's a daunting task but the result can be harmful in the long run if we keep it status quo.

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