“The landscape is certainly in flux,” said Gartner analyst Jay Wilson. Traditional agencies, management consultancies and technology firms are all “vying to become the confidant of the CMO,” he said.
On the technology services side, IBM Interactive Experience came out as one of the top four Leaders due to its advanced marketing capabilities, creative talent and ability to service the changing needs of the CMO.
“The traditional agencies will need to evolve from being marketing experts focused on marketing KPIs to business experts focused on business KPIs,” Wilson said. “As the CMO role broadens, [agencies] have to bring different parts of their organizations [that satisfy] different requirements. That’s why you see the consulting firms and tech firms getting a leg up.”
Gartner also highlights the need for greater agility and collaboration among agencies as the agency of record (AOR) model disintegrates. Traditionally very protective of their client relationships, agencies will have to get over that.
“When we talked to clients of these agencies, one of the things they really valued was ‘How well do they collaborate with our other partners?’” Wilson said.
The report also notes that independent agencies are better positioned to thrive than their holding company brethren, as clients curate a stable of outsourced marketing partners. Stand-alone shops are generally more flexible and cooperative.
Finally, on tech investments, Gartner advises digital agencies to take greater financial risk, regardless of whether they can pass those costs along to their clients – something they’ve relied on in the past.
The report analyzed digital agencies with global reach and global annual revenue of at least $175 million. Qualified agencies provide a full service offering across strategy, creative, technology and measurement, and they have acquired at least five new clients in the past year.