Agency life isn't what it once was. No, I'm not making yet another Mad Men reference. I'm talking about how agency life has changed in just the last two decades.
A friend of mine put his finger on it the other day: He said clients' views of agencies and how they interact with each other changed drastically during and after the financial crisis of 2008.
Blame the Great Recession
What my friend meant was that before the recession, there was the widely held concept of a digital "agency of record," but as the financial crisis hit and businesses looked to batten down the hatches, agencies were either dropped or had the scope of their work cut greatly. Moving out of the crisis, companies began to employ multiple agencies to specialize in the various areas of their marketing campaigns instead of the previously used agency-of-record model. That led to lower price points not only because of fractured scopes but also from an increase in competition and overall fear on the part of agencies about losing their share of campaigns.
With the proliferation of the digital marketing agency and the inexperience of some of their owners regarding things like pricing and scope-setting, client perceptions of their agencies have started to stray from the once-honorable agency-of-record viewpoint (a partnership with trust in capabilities and character) to a transaction-based interaction where everyone is replaceable and should know that.
Now, of course, this isn't so for everyone in the market. There's still such a thing as an agency of record; and, on the other side, many companies use multiple specialist agencies treat them as partners, with respect for their time and efforts. Still, the amount of misjudgment agencies is receiving from their clients is growing.
Negative Agency Trends Affecting Client Perceptions