How to Hire A Digital Ad Agency (part 1)

Hiring an interactive or digital ad agency can be quite the challenge despite the seemingly transparent nature of online and social media marketing. In reality, the landscape is tricky to navigate even for the pros, much less a company seeking to hire the best expertise.

Forrester Research has put out a report describing the changes underway for ad agencies in what it calls a new era of adaptive marketing. Essentially, it said “mass media is no longer the foundation of marketing communication, forcing yet another change in the expectations of what marketing agencies can and should deliver.”

Specialty Agencies

In short, a door has opened for a new set of specialty agencies and consultants that has created some significant confusion for marketers as to the roles of agencies,writes Sean Corcoran at Forrester. “They see Crispin Porter + Bogusky build out the skill sets of an interactive agency, interactive agency R/GA win the role of lead agency for Ameriprise, media agency Starcom Mediavest reposition themselves as a ‘human experience’ agency focusing on a more holistic media experience, and they see PR agencies like Edelman make significant strides into the interactive space through social media. This leads to frustration for marketers.”

According to Forrester research, most interactive marketers don’t trust their traditional agencies with digital work and yet most don’t believe their interactive agencies are ready to lead yet either, Corcoran said. “All of this creates somewhat of an agency purgatory – where different agencies try and take on each others’ roles but no one type of agency is ready to take over.”

Or as Aaron Schoenberger of The Brainchild Group, wrote, “just because a company can create awesome television commercials doesn’t mean they can kick butt in search engines. Social media marketing and SEO is a totally different animal.”

The bottom line for companies seeking to hire a digital marketing company, Schoenberger concludes is simply this: “quiz them and make sure they know their stuff.”

What to Ask – As a Start

To warm up, he suggests asking the following:

1.How will you improve the rank of my website?

2.Do you manually submit social bookmarks and business directory listings, or are these automated?

3.Are you familiar with Google PageRank?

4.Can you provide me with a list of keywords you have targeted and the outcome/ranking?

Stay tuned for part 2: Getting into Hardcore Questions

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