September 28, 2008
Nick Parish's latest article entitled "The Price is Right (Isn't It?)" in this months Creativity is so right on the money.
(excuse the pun)
It never fails.
At the onset of every project that a large agency outsources to a smaller digital agency like ours there is this afterthought called a budget.
We are all well aware of the media buy, the TV spot and print budgets.
When the agency partner tells us that we have exactly 4 weeks to come up with the most amazing kick ass website that fully integrates every aspect of the campaign, and oh by the way, we usually are not brought in from the onset to make sure that there is a bridge between the offline and online creative, and its a budget that is a minuscule fraction of what it is worth in terms of its importance to both the campaign and the work provided.
This always ends up being a sore point in the relationship.
When a relationship is entered into on an unfair foundation it is bound for a rocky road ahead and this is what typically happens 90% of the time when larger ad agencies work with smaller digital shops.
I have heard so many complaints from ad agencies towards digital shops regarding a disconnect between communication, creative suffering, deadlines not met, expectations not delivered and so on.
If the digital agencies were compensated fairly so many of these issues would be solved. We work through the most adverse conditions because our direct line of communication is blurred by the lack of transparency with the source.
The relationships in general would be healthier if there would be more partnerships in the entire creative, the website and the online video production would benefit immensely.
If the digital teams were not thrown the scraps of the larger campaign we may be a bit more enthusiastic about the whole process.
It seems like no one wants to admit that the website is now the anchor of the campaign.
The website serves as the heart and soul of the "new age" of advertising, the television spots and print ads are simply driving traffic to the websites and the spots have budgets that are in the millions and the website, that has its own custom video produced by the smaller shops, is a mere 100k.
How does this seem fair?
The scales are way too unbalanced.
Ad agencies will get millions from a client to do a site that they will pay a small digital agency MAYBE a few hundred thousand for.
Digital agencies have limited resources, time, budgets and accessibility to the client directly all come through day in and day out, by the skin of their teeth, every time producing the great work we see online every day by constantly jumping through hoops and having to swim through way too many layers than necessary.
Oh and by the way did I mention that we have to also educate our agency partners through the entire project so they can sound like they know what they are talking about to their clients.
I have gotten so many emails saying, “can you help me explain this better?” or “Our client wants to know about hosting, is that something we need for this site?” or a week before launch I get “is this site in Flash or HTML, our client wants to know.”
Anyone at a digital shop will recognize these question and know exactly what I am saying.
Us digital shops actually like working with the big agencies and are totally open to working together and collaborating, however once the client gets wind of all the drama involved, and the price being paid, and how much better the work would be if those layers were removed and we were compensated properly, they will simply start coming directly to us digital agencies for service just like they would any other specialty agency.
The larger ad agencies don't have the dedicated expertise or the specialized teams in house to properly execute or even explain the nature of this highly technical and creative work, this is why 85% of it is outsourced to smaller digital shops.
In my experience, every time the client came directly to us the work was infinitely better, the budgets were better and the relationship was amazing!
Its been 10 years now and I think its time that the digital agencies start getting paid fairly!
Nick Parish’s article in this months Creativity is a wonderful voice for the cause and will hopefully open a lot of eyes to the unfairness that has a strangle hold on the relationship between the traditional and the digital agency.
As our economy continues to struggle and budgets are tightened I think we will see a huge shift of dollars to the internet because you simply get more bang for your buck on the web.
The ad agencies will no longer get the type of quality work they want to deliver to their clients if those budgets continue to insult.
Time and money are the only two barriers between decent work and great work. With the right amount of time and the right budget almost anything can be achieved online and in the most exciting and dynamic ways.
Everyone will look like rock stars!
I think that the digital agencies have been hazed enough and it is time to pay us fairly for what we have worked hard for. We are officially "Mad Men" now too.
If traditional agencies want to continue the relationships with the digital shops, they need to create more of a transparency within the entire campaign and allow digital teams to get in from the onset and help budget the time and those dollars correctly.
It will be only a matter of time until someone really smart at a big brand realizes they can go directly to the digital shop and will start the trend towards contacting smaller digital agencies directly and taking the entire bulk of the digital budget out of the hands of the ad agencies who are handling the offline portion of the campaign and putting that money into the hands of the people who are actually doing the work.
Brands... We have good accountants too!
It is advantageous for both the traditional and the digital to work together NOW to find a fair ground so that digital production is paid for fairly and that better work, more creative design and better deadlines can be established.
Right now the marriage is suffering and traditional and digital will want a divorce pretty soon. Divorce is not fun and everyone loses.