In an interview with CNBC on Wednesday 23rd August, WPP’s Martin Sorrell forecasted that his company would invest over $2 billion into Facebook this year as more brands choose to place advertisements on the social media platform. Should his prediction prove correct, Facebook will receive the second largest lump of WPP’s annual media spend, with Google remaining on top with approximately $6 billion being invested annually by the conglomerate’s clients.
When you combine WPP’s investment into digital channels with those of other agencies and brands, it is clear that digital is continuing to take market share from traditional channels. With this, we are seeing a growing number of specialist agencies entering the marketing landscape and experts in digital advertising swarming to each of them.
These experts are welcomed with open arms having developed invaluable skills in placing ad inventory on digital channels and optimising their performance. However, many agencies and brands are approaching the recruitment of such individuals with tunnel vision. This is as they are failing to consider how well these experts understand the basic principles of marketing, as taught by the likes of David Ogilvy, Philip Kotler and Seth Godin.
Admittedly, this is a complication within smaller agencies who lack roles such as chief strategy director or chief creative director. Either way, the impact it is having on client results is vast in my experience. This is as many small to medium sized agencies are filled to the rim with individuals highly skilled in platform-specific tactics. What they lack, however, is individuals who are just as highly skilled in overall marketing strategy and practices.
This lacklustre mixture of skills results in a client’s investment often being misspent as the often-young individuals managing their campaign learn the basics of marketing through trial and error. Whilst I am ardent in the belief that agencies should be given the freedom to make (informed) mistakes, an understanding of basic marketing principals shouldn’t be optional.
If you run an agency with a lack of strategic knowledge, then it is time to reconsider the structure of your team. If you’re a client whose agency seems to lack individuals with an understanding of basic marketing strategies and practices, your investment may not be well placed and sourcing a new partner may be necessary.
The forlorn reality of today’s marketing landscape is that it will be those who are able to bring together individuals who are knowledgeable in the platform-specific tactics with those with an overall marketing know-how that will come out on top. For those who fail to do so, the combination of economic woes and increasingly intelligent consumers could see your results stifle dramatically.