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A week or so ago, the head of a boutique traditional agency called me in for a quick digital primer....


They were heading off to a big pitch, and needed to know their clicks from their spiders, their banners from their rich media and so on.
Enter Sara.
For the past three years or so, I have jumped on the "agencies don't get it"bandwagon. It wasn't hard to do. After all, here is a shop calling in an independent player to augment knowledge in a pinch.
I spend much of the next three days locked in a room with folks with just enough digital knowledge to make them dangerous (in a not-so-good way). This was my first hurdle. The next hurdle was disbelief in anything interactive, along the lines of "I don't believe that site gets 2 million unique visitors a month" or "I don't care what Yahoo! says, people can't be searching for that." It was like pulling teeth.
On the other hand, I also spent the next three days absorbing brilliance from the old days of advertising. The big idea was, in fact, very big. The time and thinking dedicated to audience research far outweighed anything I had seen in an interactive pitch. To top it off, we even had the classic ad man's martini lunch. Was I dreaming?
After the pitch, our heads were pretty low. Could a three-day interactive primer really pull together a very traditional shop through? For the insider, it was definitely sewn together last minute, with strings hanging everywhere. We did an immediate post-mortem, checking off all the things we should not have done, all the things we promised to never, ever do again. It was clear that building a digital competency was going to take a very long time.
I had pretty much dismissed the idea of advancing to the finals. Until we got the call. Perhaps the agencies do "get it," after all.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

www.saraholoubek.com
Sara Holoubek is a free agent consultant, advising growth firms and investors in the interactive technology and advertising sector. Ms. Holoubek is also the contributing editor of the DM News' SearchBuzz newsletter, and a regular author of the DM News Optimized column.

In 2008 Ms. Holoubek was elected to the Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization (SEMPO) board of directors for a third term. During this time she also co-founded the SEMPO NY Working Group.

From 2003-2005, Ms. Holoubek served as iCrossing's Chief Strategy Officer, building the firm's New York office and repositioning the iCrossing brand as it raised an early VC round of $13 million. Prior to this experience, Ms. Holoubek held posts in client strategy with interactive agencies Organic and Blue Dingo. Her vertical expertise covers over 10 sectors and includes work with Levi Strauss & Co, Bloomingdales, LexisNexis, Texas Instruments, Colgate-Palmolive, Century 21 Real Estate, Martha Stewart Omnimedia, as well as firms within the WPP family and the Aegis Group family.

Ms. Holoubek has contributed to and/or been quoted in publications such as Adweek, DM News, Mediapost's Search Insider, WSJ.com, The Madison Avenue Journal, ClickZ and Internet Retailer. She also serves as a frequent guest lecturer at venues such as SMX, Search Engine Strategies, OMMA, the DMA, Harvard, NYU and Baruch College.

Ms. Holoubek also brings an international perspective to her work, having lived and worked in Latin America and Europe , and is fluent in Spanish and French and conversant in Portuguese. She holds a B.A. from the University of Iowa and an M.B.A. from HEC in France. She resides in New York City with her husband, baritone Claudio Mascarenhas.