Ad Agency Evolution: Opportunities for Traditional Agencies


Guest posts written by, Jeff Adelson-Yan, co-founder + managing partner of Levelwing, a South Carolina-based firm servicing both agencies and marketers with digital marketing, analytics and intelligence solutions.

Businesses today report that the number one challenge they face is increased competition within the marketplace.  This is especially true among advertising agencies in which the commoditization of media services and the challenges of margin pressures have never been more salient. Meanwhile, the average agency-client partnership has dwindled to less than three years on average as marketing budgets shrink and brands increasingly look to digital to stretch their marketing dollars. Traditional agencies with limited in-house digital capabilities have never been more vulnerable.

Enter Levelwing.

Who is Levelwing?

Levelwing is a business analytics and marketing intelligence firm based in Charleston, South Carolina, specializing in agency support services such as:

  • Analytics
  • Measurement and Reporting
  • Campaign Management and Optimization
  • Creative Production
  • Digital Media Marketing

Streamlined integration with an agency’s existing team allows Levelwing to provide digital marketing services at a reduced cost to agencies without a dedicated digital team, thus helping the agencies remain competitive with advertisers looking to expand their digital presence. Levelwing has more than ten years’ experience with agencies and has been involved in five consecutive Super Bowl campaigns, partnering with brands and their agency partners to bring traditional campaigns to life across digital channels.

Why Consider a Partnership?

Over 30% of ad agency revenue in 2012 came from digital, the largest area of growth within the advertising and marketing service sector.

It behooves a traditional agency to equip themselves for this evolution. But considering that one third of agencies employ five or fewer people, how is a traditional agency able to stay on the cutting edge of technology and digital innovation? Even traditional agencies with 50-100 people find it difficult to stay abreast of the fast paced and dynamic digital landscape while juggling everyday operations. For many, it’s simply not feasible to do it all well.

Partnering with a firm such as Levelwing can be extremely profitable for these agencies, allowing them to offer their clients comprehensive traditional and digital solutions, while freeing them up to define strategy and creative direction while focusing on managing client needs.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Levelwing’s agency support services are just one example of the opportunities available for traditional advertising agencies to leverage partnerships and alternative business models in order to stay afloat in today’s unpredictable marketing economy.

Traditional agencies are also looking to other companies for their production services, namely website or video development.  A partnership such as this allows these agencies to stay competitive by providing valuable service offerings to their clients, but without the overhead and resources necessary to maintain an in-house development team.

Other traditional agencies are relying on brand advocates and a team of open source innovators to lead the creative direction for their clients. Crowdsourcing through social media applications guarantees ongoing idea generation from those who actually use the products and services, but without the need for the longer and more expensive traditional ad production process.

In addition to crowdsourcing, other agencies are investigating decoupling (streamlining work flow across fewer office locations in order to reduce duplicate work), hiring freelance or contract employees versus using a traditional FTE model, or turning to agency training and certification businesses in order to do more with less.

Whatever forms of innovation or partnership an agency leverages, the need to maximize digital opportunity and create efficiencies has never been more prudent. The agencies that adopt these changing business models will be best equipped to maximize revenue and client satisfaction in the future.

Connect with Jeff via Twitter or LinkedIn. Jeff, along with his partner, Steve Parker, Jr., is co-author of the blog, Asking Smarter Questions: Data Driven Marketing and Business Intelligence.

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.

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