The advertising industry is a living, breathing thing. It is constantly in flux, with new technologies and trends spreading through the industry like wildfire. With these new advertising technologies appearing every day, agencies also need to find innovative ways to continuously adapt to the changing environment in order to help clients truly compete. But the landscape has changed and – as a recent article from ClickZ pointed out – large, traditional ad agencies are having trouble staying in the game. So what has led us to this point where the small digital agency underdog appears to be triumphing over what used to be the only option in the advertising world?

Thanks to Digital, Bigger Isn’t Always Better

In the good ol’ days of Mad Men advertising, consolidating work to one large ad agency made sense for large brands from a consistency and financial standpoint. The large agency came up with the big idea and actually had the manpower to execute it across all traditional channels. But then something happened to turn this model on its head. Digital came along, bringing with it new specialties and required skill sets, a fresh batch of small and innovative digital agencies, and more efficient ways of reaching an audience (not to mention a few big challenges for the traditional agency).

Through options such as Search Engine Optimization (SEO), social media, paid search, email marketing and mobile, brands can easily reach consumers on a much more targeted basis while tracking each campaign’s effectiveness at a granular level. This is where the big advertising agency gets tripped up. They know TV, radio and print, but digital is a whole new beast they have very little experience with – especially when it comes to successfully tracking, analyzing and optimizing campaigns to improve ROI. That hands-on experience, along with a proven track record, is crucial to successful digital marketing because each individual channel requires such a unique set of skills that don’t apply to the traditional advertising channels. Plus, the digital world is always changing at such a rapid pace that keeping up requires flexibility and quick adaptation – something the traditional agency’s sheer size hardly allows for.

The author of the ClickZ article summarized the current agency situation perfectly in terms of the needs of clients:

“What advertising clients need is the right idea and right team with the right experience to execute it right. Because the digital disciplines are so new and evolving so fast, few big agencies have the expertise or track record to make a credible claim in the eyes of the clients.”

We at ASQ know the first step to successful digital marketing is asking the right questions. Maybe it’s time for brands to take a fresh look at traditional agencies and ask the basic question: Can you truly help my company compete in an increasingly digital world?