Is the end of the digital agencies near?

Is the end of the digital agencies near?

The advertising industry is one of the most established industries in the world. There are many multinational companies and many world dominators, like WPP and Omnicom along with thousands of local agencies. 

After the Internet revolution, the long established order of advertising agencies was shaken. They were up against something that that they had no idea about. They were in the business of creativity but the speed and ease of information sharing in the digital age required another kind of creative mind than the one writing TV commercials. 

First of all “old” agencies did not know about technology. Therefore, they did not know how interactive media worked. They did not know how to use mobile technologies either. However, their customers demanded to be where the people were and the people had been on Internet for the last 15 years. 

Therefore, the children of the Internet era quickly filled this supply and demand gap with digital agencies. 

Many digital agencies have been founded in the last ten years. They claimed that they were native to digital technologies; therefore, they could provide solutions to customers’ demands. Some were very successful, like Turkey’s 41?29!. People began to talk about whether or not this was the end of conventional agencies. 

Furthermore, in April, a shocking thing happened in Turkey. A digital agency took over a conventional one.  GREY [an advertising company] issued a statement that went something like this: 

“Alemsah Ozturk will become the CEO of 4129Grey and Guray Mert has been appointed General Manager of 4129Grey. Alemsah will report directly to David Patton, the CEO and President of Grey EMEA. 4129Grey will offer a fully integrated team of over 150 specialists in the field of communication and digital solutions supported by the wider global capabilities of the Grey Group.”

Patton commented:

“By aligning Grey Istanbul and 4129 we will create a formidable and dynamic integrated agency structure that will bring together considerable talent and expertise across all digital, creative and strategy platforms in Turkey. I’m convinced this new agency model will significantly enhance the quality of work we deliver for our clients and our reputation in the market.”

Alemsah Ozturk said, “We are very determined in our goal to create the most modern and creative communications agency in Turkey. The bringing together of strong digital and advertising capabilities under one roof will not only give us scale and presence, it will also enable us to create a truly integrated approach to match our clients’ needs and wants better than ever before”.

If you think about what I wrote and the statements above, you might think that it is the end of conventional agencies. However, you would be absolutely wrong.  

In an interview I did with [advertising company] TBWA’s Jean-Marie Dru, he foretold that the next few years would be end of the digital agencies.  He said that conventional agencies know “business and creativity” better and that they will learn how to use technology very quickly. This will change the digital agencies as well, as there cannot be a digital agency separately, he said. If they do not become more conventional, they will die. He was very right. 41?29! was much more than a digital agency; they became a very decent 360 service provider, which is why Alemşah Öztürk could become the CEO of the newly created beast.  If agencies that are still calling themselves digital have to learn one thing from this merger, it should not be that they are on the right track. The lesson for digital agencies to learn from this merger is that they should evolve and become more creative focused no matter the medium.