The 4 Types of Digital Media Agencies

Finding a competent Digital Marketing Agency is becoming an urgent situation for brands, and it puts significant pressure on marketing teams to choose well.

Yet, despite the conspicuous evolution of the digital landscape, I’ve noticed that marketers continue to ask the same question.

Which Digital Agency Should You Select?

Customer expectations, brand strategies, relevant technologies, available resources, corporate leadership — they all change. What was right last year will likely be wrong next year. Even the definition of “Digital Agency” has changed.

Clearly, the speed of all this change makes it difficult to keep up. I recently ran a test search just to see what today’s marketers are faced with, and what I found wasn’t encouraging or helpful — about 20 articles basically making the same, dated points about digital communications. Most regrettably, the articles fail to identify the current types of Digital Agencies, simplify the complexities facing marketers, or make sense of evolving customer needs.

While the question above remains relevant, it assumes that all Digital Agencies serve the same purpose. Fact is — they don’t. It’s time to ask a new question.

Which kind of Digital Agency Should You Select?

There is little training or education given to help marketers manage the agency search challenge. You can’t go to college or attend a training course and learn how to pick — much less work — with a Digital Media Marketing Agency. And, as I’ve noted, even the ever-changing meaning of the term “Digital Agency” raises conflicting issues.

To help you begin the search process more efficiently, I’ve outlined four kinds of Digital Agencies that exist today (from oldest-to-newest evolution).

The Digital Campaign Agency

Overview: This type of agency has more “traditional ad agency” talent. They create “emotional” campaign ideas to help sell products or services, but instead of television spots, they create interactive commercials. Digital campaign agencies push these ideas out to all digital channels with the intention of luring users back to a central hub or destination: It’s the “big idea” that hooks them in. Imagine Manny Pacquiao with the Samsung Galaxy 4s in his pocket, an Apple Watch on his wrist, and a Bluetooth Jawbone in his ear.

Advantages: These agencies look to find the “truth” in any brand, surfacing those “truths” through a multitude of digital interactions. So they are ideally suited to brands seeking high-level campaign concepts and brand storytelling.

The Integrated Marketing Digital Agency

Overview: These agencies generally have less of the “epiphany” appeal than the digital campaign agencies, but their strategy of using statistics to drive the traffic back to the destination has proven effective. They develop digital properties that utilize organic search, paid search, mobile, email, display, etc. The key here is that they seek to improve performance, execution over execution. They use data, analytics, and marketing-automation platforms like Eloqua or Marketo. Having all these channels working in concert is similar to how a rock drummer manages all of the drums in a syncopated fashion — think Digital Agency octopus.

Advantages: Clients benefit by having one partner that can — in ideal circumstances — effectively leverage available resources and orchestrate all channels in order to determine what performs best for each.

Vegas Reputation Management

The Digital Solutions Agency

Overview: A more recent step in the evolution of the Digital Agency model is the emergence of the digital solutions agency, which operates more like a custom software development company. For example, this type of agency might not only develop a CMS system, but also marketing, customer services, sales portal, and inventory management capabilities on the back-end. This approach enables the brand to operate with greater flexibility and efficiency. However, these agencies tend to find competition with large consulting groups (such as Accenture and Deloitte).

Advantages: These agencies create digital experiences that enhance the overall customer experience and provide holistic benefits through complex solutions that draw from multiple data sources to diagnose and manage many business functions simultaneously. The result is external value and internal efficiencies.

The DX Agency

Overview: The philosophy of a DX agency maintains that businesses need to think about the gravitational forces that keep customers in your brand’s orbit. The force must be so strong that customers do not easily pull out of it to begin orbiting a competitor’s brand. A DX — or Digital Experience Agency — creates campaigns, leverages analytics, closes internal operational gaps, and utilizes human psychology to create solutions that, when combined, activate a strong, steady pull towards the brand.

Advantages: Strengthens the customer journey by enhancing the digital platform on every level. The DX Agency tends to encompass skills and capabilities inherent in the first three agency types to deliver the appropriate benefits from each.

There is increasing demand for CSOs (Chief Success Officers) and CXOs (Chief Experience Officers) who can lead DX Agencies to create platforms that launch and connect Digital Experiences in ways that drive harmonized intrinsic value and the free flow of data. Our agency has found that there is no better way to reduce marketing risk across the entire digital ecosystem and empower innovation across the end-to-end customer journey. One of my personal favorite examples of this is the Orbit strategy from Mark Bonchek. Here are a few other good ones worth noting:

The stakes have never been higher. But if a brand makes the right choices, it can derive real, intrinsic value to their customers and beyond. People’s lives will be enriched because, as Michael Porter says in this video, it’s “how capitalism will provide more shared value to us as humans.” Choosing the right Digital Agency relationship for you can help your business find sustainable, measurable value by building deeper, more memorable connections between a brand and its customers.

And, as marketers — isn’t that what our business is all about?

How Bitcoin Has Been Building Brand Equity As A Spectator Of Itself

branding-bitcoin From the Grexit crisis to the recent block size split debate, Bitcoin frequently finds itself at the center of regular news cycles. As the debates about its price performance, volatility and political implications continue to mount, beneath it all lurks the less obvious but fascinating undercurrent of Bitcoin’s brand equity — and how it continues to evolve under the auspices of… Read More
Source: News Buzz

On Tinder, “Hookup Culture”, And Talking About Sex

Freeway Billboard The big hurdle for Tinder would mean coming to terms with the reality of how people use and perceive their product. To adopt a safe sex message would mean accepting their cultural role as a “hookup app,” something the company has only ever sought (sometimes preposterously) to disavow. Read More
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The Payments World Really Wants To Know Who You Are

Female face with lines from a facial recognition software In the early 1960s, Scottish engineer James Goodfellow was given a problem to solve. A colleague had invented a way to insert a card into a machine and get money out. Goodfellow’s task was to figure out a way to ensure that only the card’s legitimate owner could use these new “ATM” machines to obtain cash. So he created the personal identification number, what we call… Read More
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Facebook Briefly Bans The Phrase 'Everyone Will Know'

Facebook blocked the phrase “everyone will know” for more than a day, but users are now once again able to post the seemingly innocuous three words. 

“This was a mistake with our spam filter and our engineers have resolved the issue,” Melanie Ensign of Facebook security communications told The Huffington Post. HuffPost also independently confirmed that the phrase can now be posted. 

“We’re constantly updating the rules used by our spam-fighting engine and this particular phrase erroneously got caught in the mix,” she explained.

Ensign didn’t know exactly how long the phrase had been banned. On Friday, someone asked on Question.com, “Why can’t you post ‘everyone will know’ on Facebook?” Another user replied they also were unable to post the phrase as a status. On Sunday, a Reddit thread was filled with people claiming they were unable to post the phrase as a status or in a comment.

Before Facebook corrected the problem, we tried posting “Everyone will know” for ourselves, and got this message:

We even had trouble sending the phrase in a private message. Though the first time we sent “Everyone will know” the message appeared to go through, on subsequent attempts the phrase was blocked.

A few minutes later, though, even the initial message had been removed: 

At least two Reddit users noted that when they posted the phrase, they received error messages that appeared to reference “liking” a post. One person when he or she first attempted to write “Everyone will know” as a comment, this message came up, appearing to refer to “liking” a post:


Another user described an almost identical issue, posting this screenshot. That user noted that the message only showed up after the failed comment attempt, writing, “I liked the picture five minutes earlier with no message, and this only popped up when I posted the comment, so I’m not sure why it would give me a warning about liking the post, though.”

We’re glad there’s some explanation for the apparent “everyone will know ban,” because something about it left us with a deeply spooky feeling. Maybe it’s just getting too close to Halloween.

Contact the author at Hilary.Hanson@huffingtonpost.com.

Update: This post has been updated to indicate the issue has been resolved.

Also on HuffPost:

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A Date With Chef Watson

Watson_093 Watson, IBM’s supercomputer best known for winning Jeopardy in 2011, is now a chef, too. IBM pinged a bunch of the world’s top chefs, then added a dash of their knowledge and a large clump of all the cooking, food and chemical compound data they could pull from the ether to make Chef Watson, a supercomputer program that aims to give us weird and wonderful recipes beyond what… Read More
Source: News Buzz

Microsoft’s Hardware Push And The Falling PC Market

Screen Shot 2015-10-11 at 9.42.13 AM The PC industry had a big week. Microsoft debuted several news devices built to run its new Windows 10 operating system, garnering a more-positive press cycle than I anticipated. The software giant also announced that 110 million devices now ran the new operating system, a number that it seems proud of. The glow stemming from all of that was tempered a few days later by the release of new… Read More
Source: News Buzz

You’re Not In The Valley Anymore

City of Chicago. Aerial view of Chicago downtown at sunset from high above. My friend and fellow investor Jon Lehr of Work-Bench recently wrote a piece entitled “7 Lessons Learned in My First 2 Years as a VC.” Jon and I have known each other since before either of us were VCs, and I’ve tried to carry a bit of his legacy to Chicago in launching the Chicago Enterprise Tech Meetup (Jon launched the NY version several years back and it has become a… Read More
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Better Skills for a New Generation

Photo: A World at School

By Zach Sims, Co founder and CEO of Codecademy. Zach is also an A World at School Ambassador.

Four years ago, my cofounder Ryan and I realized that there were a few fundamental problems with the global economy and the way it treated its workforce. As we all know, opportunity still isn’t evenly distributed. Yet, even for those around the world with access to education, there are many who are paying for a false bill of goods. They pay to attend university or a high school and find upon graduating that their skills are insufficient for the modern workforce. It’s the experience of these people — and those without access to education — that led us to start Codecademy, a website that teaches more than 25 million people around the world the skills they need to find jobs.

When we first started looking at the global skills crisis, we realized that many of the institutions we’re reliant on — schools, governments, and businesses — don’t move quickly enough to react to the needs of the broader economy. We’re stuck with students learning skills that might have been relevant five years ago (at best!). With Codecademy, we decided to create something that changed in tune with the labor market and that went direct to learners around the world. Instead of being chained to a conventional classroom, learners could be anywhere, empowered by a form of learning that was interactive, hands-on, and community-centric. Four years later, we’re proud to say that students from New York to Nairobi have used Codecademy to learn technology skills.

Codecademy teaches people technology skills like programming, data science, and statistics. We’ve found, however, that these skills are core to twenty-first century literacy and, by empowering our learners early on, that they’re able to strengthen their abilities across the board. This means that a student that learns to program often is better equipped to learn to become a better writer, a result that’s backed up by early research from the MIT Media Lab thirty years ago.

By making our platform online and accessible to all, we’ve been able to work to get traditionally marginalized groups programming. Last year, we worked with Google.org and DonorsChoose to raise one million dollars to fund the education of US high school girls learning to program. We helped to double the number of girls learning to program within that age bracket by incentivizing teachers and students alike with classroom rewards. We’ve found that creating content that works for different genders and different groups is a hallmark of Codecademy (and of how we teach).

Now, we’re excited to open up to different languages around the world. We’re fortunate to already work with governments around the world. In Argentina, we work with the Government of Buenos Aires to translate our content into Spanish and teach students in their school system. In Brazil, we work with the Lemann Foundation on translating Codecademy into Portuguese. In France, we work with Libraries Without Borders to translate content into French and to provide to to the French-speaking world, often in places like French-Speaking Africa with the help of their novel Ideas Box.

With Theirworld and Africa Gathering and Kano, we’ll be bringing programming and learning to some of the most marginalized and vulnerable populations. We’re excited to work with Mariemme Jamme, an entrepreneur with an incredible story of persistence, and Sarah Brown, a tireless fighter for girls’ education. We think we can make a real difference in Africa — creating a new generation of entrepreneurs and technologists to make the economy of the future.


Zach is the cofounder and CEO of Codecademy, the leading provider of online education to close the skill gap.  Since its founding in 2011, Codecademy has helped more than 25 million people around the world learn the skills they need to find jobs in the twenty-first century.

11 October, 2015, is International Day of the Girl Child. This year, the Global Business Coalition for Education and Theirworld have released a new report, The Journey of a Girl: Opportunities for Business Investment in Girls’ Education. The report maps out barriers to education along the journey of a girl and identifies where and when businesses should invest to maximize the greatest social return.

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Against The Singularity

marooned-in-realtime Ray Kurzweil’s predictions of the Singularity annoy me sufficiently that I once sat down to write a TechCrunch column attacking them. A brief primer: Singularity theory argues that our exponential technological growth will, several decades hence, culminate in an unimaginable transcendence that redefines humanity, sentience, and/or reality. It is also known as the Rapture of the Nerds Read More
Source: News Buzz