Is Social Media Marketing Stuck in Ad Agency Purgatory?

ad agencies stuck when it comes to social media for themselves

“My personal experience is that most agencies are social media posers. They do not embrace social media for their own agencies yet recommend it for clients.”  Agency search consultant, Hank Blank, Blank and Associates

The world of advertising isn’t changing, it’s changed. Marketers have pushed for the change and assessing whether their current agencies are ready to help them into the future.

New data suggest that marketers know social is the way forward. Social media is breaking down the walls between between “all types” of agencies, each trying to own it for their clients.

Eric Kintz, a Hewlett-Packard marketing exec and blogger said: “I think they [agencies] are somewhat helping. But they need to show how social media has helped them further their own agenda. So if an ad agency comes to me, I’d ask if they have their own page on a social network site? Are they posting videos on YouTube? Do they have their own blog? And how has it helped them in their own business?”

Marketers are still finding it difficult to locate the ad agencies that are credible and capable within the social media arena. According to Forrester’s research, marketers don’t trust traditional agencies to run their social media campaigns, but neither do they trust  their entire marketing program to smaller interactive agencies.

All of this creates somewhat of an agency purgatory — where different agencies try and take on each others’ roles but no one type of agency is ready to take over,” writes Forrester Analyst, Sean Corcoran.

Agencies need to first get their own house in order when it comes to social media. Prospective clients will be looking for agencies with verifiable social media experience that practice what they preach.

Read Sean’s article, “Agencies Enter Into A ‘Great Race’ For Relevance”

Additional articles that may be of interest:

photo credit: raunov via photopin cc

About Michael Gass

Consultant | Trainer | Author | Speaker

Since 2007, he has been pioneering the use of social media, inbound and content marketing strategies specifically for agency new business.

He is the founder of Fuel Lines Business Development, LLC, a firm which provides business development training and consulting services to advertising, digital, media and PR agencies.


  1. I would say a combination Communication and Technology (Website) would be ideal. But then even when someone learning any of the two fields they are mutually exclusive from each other.

  2. The Federal Government has been scrambling the last couple years to get in on the action (Social Media). There’s a mix of companies implementing social media strategies – both monitoring and engagement – for these agencies. But typically it’s the large end-to-end consulting/contractor companies securing the work. Unless it’s a small business set aside. There are also a number of large consumer research and PR companies in the mix.

  3. Lucinda DeVries says:

    I just have to say I don’t believe Eric has ever worked in the agency setting. It is a very sad but true fact that just like the cobblers child, they do not do for themselves what they do for clients. More often than not, agency websites are outdated, brochures and/or portfolio samples are not current and they haven’t given much attention to their own social media program. It’s not that they don’t understand the importance of it. They are experts at social media but that they are focusing on the clients needs and not their own. I think that a traditional agency who has someone on their team who is a social media expert and can show results for the work they have done for clients is all it takes. And that goes the other way around for interactive agencies. My point is, ask your agency what they have done for other clients, not for themselves.

  4. I think that we are one agency that does a great job at practicing what we preach. SM is our main new business tool right now. Check out our social media blog and link to all of our other networks. let me know what you think.

  5. Alisha Tannersby says:

    Michael, your post is spot on! According to, only 30 out of 1,770 advertising agencies had online brand health scores over 500 (out of 1,000), meaning most ad agencies DO NOT practice the online best practices they preach. Tsk, tsk.

    See the proof for yourself @

  6. Thank you for the kind words and for the link Alisha.

  7. susanborst says:

    Great post. Here, here! I have a 20+ year traditional agency background, and am now consulting in social media. It amazes me how the “big” agencies have such lame SM efforts for their own “brand.” Infrequent posts, not great content, little or no engagement – seems interns are running the show for many agencies. Definitely a missed opportunity. Client views expressed above are no surprise.

  8. Thanks Susan. I wholeheartedly agree!

  9. Craig Lindberg says:

    A wise cook eats their own cooking before serving it to guests 🙂

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