I was speaking with a principal from a digital firm out West the other day and he provided me with a beautiful analogy on the state of where digital agencies and traditional agencies are going.

When there were just black & white TVs, we didn’t call them black & white TVs, we called them TVs.  Before there were digital-only agencies, we didn’t call agencies anything other than agencies.

When color TVs came out, we did distinguish.  You either had a black & white TV, or you had a color TV.  You either had a digital agency or a full service agency.

Now that black & white TVs are no longer here, we don’t call color TVs, color TVs…we just call them TVs.


This is where it’s all going.

The two are converging on each other.

My prediction is that two years from now, there won’t be any “digital” agencies, there will be “agencies”.

Today, digital firms are talking about “digital at the core”…I’ve seen numerous firms call this out.  They use digital as the starting point and build integrated programs.  They bring a lot of advanced digital expertise that “full service” agencies can’t bring…which eventually will be neutralized by “full service” agencies.

Today, “full service” agencies are feverishly (some, not all) to advance their digital prowess.

They are moving to the middle from the right, while digital firms are moving to the middle from the left. (Left and right are insignificant here…could be right and left).

My second prediction is today’s “full service” agencies will reach the middle sooner.    Doesn’t mean digital agencies will go away, just means that the point of difference that exists today in many digital agencies will become less significant.

Implication for agencies:
“So some, not all”…what does this mean for the “not all’s”.  Means those agencies that don’t get on the train and don’t shore up digital skills will not survive….plain and simple.

Implication for marketers:
If you’re in an agency search mode looking for an agency, recognize that the skill sets do transcend types of firms and the level of sophistication is blurring – not to the point where it’s not recognizable, but to the point that you need to look harder and be a bit more critical about what sits under the hood.  There are some great digital firms out there that can get you to far better places than many full service firms.  Just have to ask yourself what you need and how realistic is it that you really need it.  That will help you decide how far you need to go to the “left” at this point in your search.