Penning a scathing takedown
of traditional advertising agencies and their inability to effectively understand and create
digital marketing, Portal A Co-Founder and Executive Producer Nate Houghteling argues that mainstream ad agencies simply don't have what it takes to create what brands need in today's digital
Nate paints a picture of the status quo as he sees it, writing: "With brands moving more of their overall spend to digital every year, traditional agencies have tried their
best to keep up with the times. The big four holding companies that dominate the mainstream advertising world -- IPG, Omnicom, WPP and Publicis -- have trimmed the fat, shuffled teams and hired chief
innovation officers by the dozen, but these cosmetic changes have not altered the fundamental threat that all large agencies face in an era of rapid technological change and audience
His biggest argument is that agencies still live in an antiquated world where interruptive advertising is the norm. Clearly, that's not the world we live in anymore and is
what will make every inbound marketer very happy, Houghteling writes: "Brands want to build audiences and communities online, and the best way to do it is with stuff that people will actually seek
out, talk about and share."
Oh, and he also accuses traditional agencies of being fat with bureaucracies filled with too many stakeholders who accomplish nothing but slow down the
ever-speedier process of today's marketing.
This argument, of course, has been made for years. I think as defined, traditional agencies will never rise to the occasion of truly becoming
serviceable providers of digital marketing services. But that's why things change. That's why things become extinct. And that's why new and better organizations rise from the ashes. Although it's
often the very same "traditional” types who re-tool themselves into successful digital offerings. They have to. After all, what's the alternative? Close up shop?
shops do pack it in -- but in many cases, shops rise to the challenge and make the necessary changes to stay afloat. And yeah, sometimes that just means a large holding company like Publicis scooping
up a shop like Sapient or an even smaller, more nimble digital player.
Other times, it means entrepreneurial types exiting their current shop to launch a shop that will better serve
a brand's changing needs. But that's nothing new. People have been leaving shops and starting their own agencies forever.
The biggest thing holding back the ad industry is its
conservatism and it's "we've always done it that way mentality." For all the forward-thinking agencies like to profess that they, for the most part, are not harbingers of change. Thankfully, a few are
-- and it's those few who will make the necessary changes to survive