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4 Reasons to Fire Your Digital Ad Agency

Not all digital ad agencies are as savvy on these strategies and technologies as they proclaim, according to the initial survey results of integrated marketing agencies by Andrew Ballenthin, president of Sol Solutions.

Ballenthin recently conducted a sample review of integrated marketing agencies to see where they were at in their own application of social media as part of their digital media services. He found that less than 15% had integrated their own digital marketing practices into their website to a significant degree. Lack of digital capabilities - or just a belief in practicing what you preach - is certainly one good reason to move forward with a termination.

There are other reasons that a digital ad agency may not be a good fit, according to an informal survey of marketing executives by MarketingVOX.

You know it's time to find a new digital ad agency, we were told, when:

It can't take care of the basics.

Perhaps they argue about everything and fail to respond to what you need, says Gail S. Bower, president of Bower & Co. Consulting LLC Or they flub your launch and then, unreachable all day, are finally tracked down two hours from their office without the ability to help you until they return. Or they make recommendations you don't agree with, but convince you to try it to see how it works, noting that the data will help us make improvements. And then they lose the data. "These all happened to me with the same resource," she says.

In fairness to the industry, such incompetence is far more the exception than the rule. But there are other, more subtle ways a relationship is a mismatch.

Not enough focus on the brand.

You can tell the agency is not focusing on the brand when dialogue is only and exclusively about ROI and metrics, says Rick Mathieson, author of The On-Demand Brand: 10 Rules for Digital Marketing Success in an Anytime, Everywhere World These are foundational and mandatory, but should be just start of the conversation. "The agency should be looking for ways to enhance the brand, not just the bottom line. Far too many digital agencies are really direct agencies playing in the digital space. That’s fine for some programs, but not for all."

Another tips off, he adds: it doesn’t win creative awards, when the conversation is all about building buzz rather than business and when the focus is strictly about a single channel - email, or iPhone apps - instead of ways to build meaningful experiences.

They have only linear thinking with measurement.

Stephanie Rogers, Senior Director, Contact Planning, at PARTNERS+simons, says that it's time to fire your digital marketing agency when it doesn't measure campaign performance beyond impressions and clicks, neither of which tells the whole story or offers actionable insights. "It is important to bring a rigorous process to the definition of success, the development of audience insights, content delivery, and measurement of audience engagement." The objective is to closely align the marketing program to a tangible business outcome, whether it is greater brand awareness, audience engagement, demand generation, or something else, she says.

When digital is divorced from traditional.

This is another reason to bolt, Mathieson says. "Your digital work should reinforce and build upon everything else your brand is doing in every other medium. When it’s not, sometimes that's your fault, sometimes it's the agency's. If it's your fault, fix it. If it's the agency’s fault, start looking."

Because all media could conceivably become digital, every classic agency must become digitally inclusive agencies, says Telmar's CEO Stanley Federman. "Full service agencies must have all of the web-savvy of a full digital agency. As an advertiser, you want a team that knows all media not just search or display or alternatively radio or print."

You know you need to find a new digital agency when they say, 'We're experts in everything digital,' and then point to a single person as their specialist in mobile, social and eCRM, concludes Bryon Morrison, president of The Marketing Arm's digital group.

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