As much as landing page optimization has evolved over the last 10 years, one conversation has changed very little. I have this conversation at least four or five times each week with customers, analysts and partners. It’s the one about ‘traditional’ agencies, and their reluctance to engage in real optimization.

With today’s rapid online marketing evolution, how can the agencies — with arguably the most at stake — remain stuck in 1990s digital thinking? There are many answers to that question, but that’s not THE question on my mind today. The question that now needs to be raised is why clients don’t demand that their agencies perform at least as well as an in-house team could? After all, it’s the brand that really suffers in all this.

Original 1956 NBC Peacock logo promoting color televisionBlack & White Television

Failing to optimize digital marketing in 2012 is like failing to move to color television production in the early 70’s. There was and is a lot at stake for brands looking to make big splashes and hone great impressions. And there’s the cold, hard cash — more of which leads to more revenue when the latest technologies and practices are embraced.

Many of the biggest brands put their trust in global agencies with roots in traditional, media-driven models. That’s great, if those shops augment their creative and media with transparent optimization to make it all much more valuable. But, most of the time, they don’t. Advertising spend becomes an island — isolated from an increasingly interdependent and multidisciplinary digital marketing landscape. It does what it does, but not nearly as well as it could.

Perhaps, instead of debating the motives for agency inaction or just flat-out blaming them for sub-par performance, it’s time for brands to take responsibility for their own ROAS. So here’s the question: If your brand took its existing ad spend, but optimized it into 50% more business, what would happen next? For you? For your agency? For your competitors? The days of black & white TV are behind us. Are you shooting in color?