Report: Digital Shops Must Morph Into 'Value Mediators'

Just as the agency world has begun a new wave of consolidation, Forrester Research has issued a new report concluding that it is not what the industry needs -- particularly among digital shops. It noted that consumers are exerting more control over how and when they research and engage with brands before making purchasing decisions.

The report, titled “The New Interactive Agency Landscape,” concludes that digital shops have to transform themselves from brand agents into “value exchange mediators.” Marketers have to insist on the transformation, states the report, by principal analyst Jim Nail.

“As agencies cherrypick from the explosion of new media, tools and technologies unleashed by innovation, the diversity of offerings defies a single label, such as 'digital agency',” the Forrester report asserts.

With many interactive agencies specializing in certain digital disciples, marketers find themselves dealing with a long and often unwieldy roster of agencies. That makes it more difficult to deliver consistent messages and experiences to audiences and customers, per the report. And instead of a rational and integrated marketing approach, the current model often serves up a siloed “channel-centric” view that serves no one’s interests particularly well.

In order to change that dynamic, the agency transition from brand advocate to value exchange moderator is required. Forrester defines the latter as “a firm that blends strategy, creative, technology, media and data offerings to connect brands and their audiences in ways that balance satisfying customer needs against achieving business goals."

The report goes into detail about the four types of firms that Forrester believes effective agencies will morph into in the future, including so-called “business transformers” that will help companies re-invent themselves by “envisioning how digital capabilities enable companies to enter adjacent spaces.”

There will also be “Experiential Branders” that will drive brand communications primarily by designing emotional experiences that bond customers to brands.

“Demand Generators” will use technology to close the deal with “in-market customers” who are ready to purchase. “Audience Engagers” will focus on content creation to carry on longer conversations with consumers.

As agencies undergo metamorphoses, marketers must prioritize the kinds of “mediators” that best fit their business goals and “test their current [agencies’] abilities to envision and execute the right balance of customer goals,” Forrester concludes.



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  1. Thom Kennon from Free Radicals, July 19, 2012 at 8:30 a.m.

    Surprisingly insightful from the usually two cycles behind Forrester.

    Many of us have been taking this "post digital" service line integration approach for several years now. But - without having read the full "report" - I truly hope Forrester isn't advising that 4 different types of further fragmented previously known as digital shops emerge.

    The future belongs to integrating all marketing and advertising around the consumer --- not 4 different types of agencies vying for the same crumbs pried from the dying fingers of still-clutched old-line advertising budgets.

    Thom Kennon | @tkennon | | +Thom Kennon

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