It’s been an interesting few months for everyone in new media. Frustrated clients have abandoned bad agencies; hungry marketing services conglomerates have gobbled-up other agencies, with Omnicom’s absorption of Online Magic and CHBi in the UK. And some other mainstream advertising agencies, fearing failure, have hurriedly closed their Web shops.
Does all this change indicate an industry that’s doomed? Not really. The sector is burgeoning because clients are smarter than ever. Consumers don’t regard the Internet as a novelty any more and are as used to surfing sites and sending e-mail as watching videos or using the phone.
Of course there’s still a long way to go. Many advertising agencies have shown that they can’t manage Websites and that “new media” and online advertising need specialist expertise to be effective.
So the large ad agency groups like Omnicom have adopted a new strategy: buying up the new media specialists, which have a track record, before they get too expensive.
These conglomerates want to buy new media agencies for their pot-ential, not for their profits. The theory is that if you’re a new media specialist and have survived all the recent turbulence, you must be doing something right. The groups which have snapped up niche agencies on the cheap know they have got a deal, as many of them provide a gateway to a blue-chip brand or two.
But whether there are any immediate synergies to be exploited by new media agencies sitting within larger marketing services groups remains a moot point.
Do clients get more innovation and better service? Are the new media dependants, rather than independents, better equipped to fully integrate new media into their clients’ business? Are larger groups better placed to earn the loyalty of hard working agency staff? And, perhaps most importantly of all, do consumers get better content, applications and services through the Web?
Perhaps. But it isn’t necessarily so. Plenty of dangers lurk for cyber-entrepreneurs surfing in the corporate corridors of their new masters.
If new media agencies are to survive long-term, whether independently or as part of a marketing services group, then the strategy is simple: keep giving clients the leadership, direction and innovation they deserve.