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2011 in Agencies

Katherine Sola | December 20, 2011

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Another day, another retrospective blog! This time, we’re looking at advertising agencies. Here are the big changes that did or didn’t happen in 2011.

Blogs were recognized as valuable tools in driving traffic and generating sales leads. A good blog gives an agency a voice as well as driving up search rankings. It wins readers’ trust, the first step in converting them into sales. A great example of this is the widely-read Ad Contrarian, written by Bob Hoffman, the CEO of the Hoffman/Lewis agency. Hoffman is straight-talking and clever, with lines like “’It’s time to bury the “360-degree touchpoints’ nonsense and start thinking like a Prussian general.”  Hoffman is skeptical of digital and social marketing and he doesn’t promote his agency in the blog. Ironically, though, his blog is an effective promotion tool because he seems like the kind of person you’d want to run your campaign. He’s just one example of why a recent MarketingSherpa poll found that blogs were the #4 tool for generating sales leads.

Agencies saw the value of social media networks like Twitter, realizing that influence grows with every tweet, mention and share. For example, Razorfish got attention this year with its Tweet Race to the Superbowl campaign for Mercedes Benz.  Four teams raced to the game in specially equipped Mercedes cars to win a pair of C-Class Coupes. But they had to generate and attract tweets in order to get petrol. Eventually, the campaign attracted over 150,000 tweets from 21,000 Twitter users. Mercedes, a rather staid brand, also gained some much-needed exposure among young people.

At the same time, advertising agencies didn’t elope with social media. The heralded death of the ‘interruption model’ in advertising did not come to pass. Marketing giant Pepsi did throw their whole budget into social media last year, shunning TV and print ads. But by March 2011, Pepsi had lost 5% of their market share and fallen behind archenemy Coca-Cola. The Ad Contrarian has a great piece about it here. Big, traditional agencies now have social media divisions. We saw all sorts of interesting social media stunts and viral content. But social media still seemed better suited to one-offs and customer interaction rather than sustained campaigns. The ‘engagement’ of social media supplemented the ‘interruption’ model. It didn’t supplant it.

Agencies made up the majority of creatives joining the Exchange this year. It’s expensive to woo new clients with lunches out and impress them with fancy offices. Only big, established agencies stood a chance of winning big business. We’re pleased to report that the Exchange is disrupting this traditional model. Agencies on the Exchange can pitch to brands they’d never be able to access otherwise. It makes financial sense both ways – our customers saved an average of 30% on their marketing campaigns. Interested? Brief the Exchange.


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