Digital agencies given just two years to live

Rosie Baker
By Rosie Baker | 26 February 2015

Digital agencies have only two years left on the clock. That's the bold position of SapientNitro Australia MD Marcos Kurowksi. All aspects of the agency scene are facing systemic change, but digital shops should be most worried, it seems.

Sapient, which pushes its positioning at the crossover of marketing and technology, has always viewed the digital agency concept as a temporary thing, Kurowski said.

“In two years’ time, there will be no such thing as a digital agency. That’s if you are a digital agency. If you are purely playing in that space, if you are an R/GA, if you were a Razorfish, if you were just in that space, you’re going to be in big trouble. You’re going to get squeezed, and we see this every day already – but it’s accelerating,” he said.

“On the technology side, you have the huge behemoths coming and pushing ever deeper into the creative space. IBM, Accenture, Deloitte are making huge investments to enter into that space, primarily through the user experience. But if you are a DT, and you go and build websites for clients, you can be pretty worried,” he said.

Likewise, Clemenger Melbourne MD Paul McMillan can’t see much long-term future for digital shops, particularly against a backdrop of so many digital agencies operating in Australia that they’re unlikely to be sustainable.

“[Digital agencies] might be in trouble. A client would go to a digital agency and they’ll say digital is the answer. In London, digital agencies are gone – R/GA and AKQA are there, but they’re big and sophisticated.

You’re not going to cover the big issues – I suspect it will all come back to the centre and creative strategy.” DT, the STW-owned digital shop, doesn’t see it that way. It dropped the word ‘digital’ from its name two years ago because it saw the need to evolve beyond pure digital projects, into more strategic and creative spaces to serve modern marketers.

Brian Vella, managing director of DT, said: “It’s a big topic and there’s no right or wrong answer, but the truth of the fact is that the concept of a traditional digital agency doesn't have long left – but I doubt it's two years. We’re not seeing a slowdown in opportunities, but a broadening of briefs. Clients are more open-minded about how how much [a digital] agency can do.”

He said the agency was picking up briefs from some bigger, traditional agencies and reckons that it is easier for digital agencies to add extra services than it is for creative shops to tool up digitally.

“We’re coming from the other direction, but it’s difficult to reinvent traditional agencies.”

This article first appeared in the 20 February print issue of AdNews. To read the full article pick up the print issue or get it on iPad. You can subscribe to AdNews by clicking here.


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