Creative Agencies Need To Be Tech Companies Too

Marketing is an art, but it’s also a science.

Brands want great storytelling, but they also want to connect marketing expenditures to the bottom line and deliver truly customized consumer experiences.

However, without the proper tech infrastructure, creative agencies can’t deliver the results that clients desire. According to a 2012 survey, 75% of CEOs already think marketers don’t understand the real business definitions of “results,” “ROI,” and “performance.” Failing to connect marketing to revenue isn’t fixing that perception.



Consumers are also buried in digital and traditional brand content. Creative agencies need to get smarter about devising, personalizing, and measuring campaigns across all mediums to provide a well-rounded brand experience where all touchpoints work in perfect alignment.

When a creative agency begins to blend art and science, it opens a new world of possibility in terms of potential work, clients, and consumer connections. Here are a few ways agencies benefit from integrating storytelling into targeted and measurable digital initiatives:

Better measurement of campaigns and performance: With detailed, quantitative tracking in place, it’s easier for agencies to understand immediately what works and what doesn’t and adapt strategies accordingly.

Increased transparency and accountability: According to the survey referenced above, 80% of CEOs don’t trust marketers. Technology can help creative agencies demonstrate value by showing clients what they’re doing for both brand perception and the bottom line.

Smarter allocation of client resources and budget: Tech companies tend to “productize” their services, while creative agencies typically enter into long-term agreements with less structured pricing. As more brands move away from the agency-of-record model, shifting to a tech pricing structure can be a smarter way to use clients’ budgets and employees’ time.

Integrated, holistic marketing campaigns: Crossing digital and traditional disciplines can create more personalized, targeted communication that appeals to individual buyers better than generic, one-to-many messaging.

As clients demand greater accountability and as the brand experience becomes more digital, the bestagencies are realizing that groundbreaking change happens when the art and science of marketing collide. This impacts the way agencies create and plan campaigns.

It also impacts how they brand themselves. DigitasLBi, for example, calls itself a “global marketing and technology agency that transforms businesses for the digital age.” Its services combine data with storytelling to effectively merge creative and technology.

This may be a radical approach now, but it’s where all agencies should be headed. 2014 was the year of the brand publisher, but now we’re seeing a shift from content to performance measurement. 2015 is going to be the year of the marketing technologist — tech talent with a flair for marketing — who can personalize marketing messages to the individual consumer in real time and turn raw data into actionable information.

The writing is on the wall. Creative agencies need to be technology companies, too. Yes, there will always be a demand for agencies that can tell compelling brand stories, but the evolution of consumer habits and changing client expectations require a personalized, scientific approach.

To survive in 2015 and beyond, agencies need to master storytelling and targeted, data-driven communication.

Paul Roetzer is the founder and CEO of PR 20/20, a Cleveland-based inbound marketing agency. He’s also the author of “The Marketing Agency Blueprint” and other marketing focused works.

4 comments about "Creative Agencies Need To Be Tech Companies Too".
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  1. Alan Schulman from SapientNitro, January 9, 2015 at 10:31 a.m.

    Paul...great post. This is not a radical approach for some. It's something agencies like ours have been noted for. The opportunity to merge storytelling with systems thinking and experience design informed by data science are the competencies CMOs and CTOs will require now and in the years ahead. For some agencies, it's a daunting thing to ponder, for others, it's a real opportunity to redefine their value to clients and deliver great content and customer experiences for consumers.

  2. Steve Plunkett from Cool Websites Organization, January 9, 2015 at 11:50 a.m.

    #maths + Advertising = FTW!

  3. Christine Owens from Total Story Now Studios, January 9, 2015 at 12:47 p.m.

    I agree a great post. We always talk about the math and the magic and balancing left/right brain thinking to achieve our goals. We have "productized" our creative and we use the term "operationalized" our workflows/tech. But now you have me thinking more about "productizing" our tech in concert. This is what I love to keep thinking and stretch into the future. I've already reached out to our Tech team! Thanks!

  4. Matt Cooper from Addroid, January 9, 2015 at 2:42 p.m.

    There's a lot of good stuff here but creative agencies are still building Flash banners like it's 2005. It seems the culture doesn't reward forward thinking.

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