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What digital agencies can learn from SoDa’s Global Digital Outlook 2017

Mellissa Flowerdew-Clarke
Mellissa Flowerdew-Clarke
VP of Marketing, EMEA
5 min read
29 June 2017

The annual Global Digital Outlook Study by SoDA and Forrester is live. As part of SoDA, the network of the hundred most innovative and award-winning digital agencies in the world, we will list the seven main results for you here.

1. 41% of marketers expect an increase in digital budgets

While it no longer qualifies as news, it feels good to conclude that 48% of marketers expect the digital budgets to increase in the coming year as well. This means that the overall total for marketing budgets will remain the same, but the majority (27%) expect to allocate a greater proportion of the budget to digital projects and campaigns. However, as high as 21% of the marketers expect to invest significantly less in online marketing. But that still is a lot, given that only 11% of the marketers surveyed last year said they expected to see a decrease in the digital marketing budget. What is the budget spent on then? Unfortunately, the report provides no answers.

2. We are going for programmatic, VR and voice

On what projects will this budget be spent then? Like last year, digital experiences (web and mobile), content, digital services and analytics top the list. When it comes to digital media spend, marketers expect the majority of spending to be on Video Advertising (49%) and Social Content (47%). Marketers expect new, short-term investments in Programmatic Advertising, VR/AR and Voice/Chatbots. When we put the same question to digital agencies, it appears that most — fortunately — have a pretty good idea of what customers want to invest in.

3. Innovation labs FTW

When it comes to the way in which marketers and agencies work together, a large number expect that real collaboration with multi-agency teams will be the spearhead of 2017. In addition, the majority of agencies consider talent attraction and continuous development of new services as the main strategy for success. The creation of an Innovation Lab — alas, you probably thought you were unique — is already a fact for 66% of the agencies, and it actually appears to be a fruitful approach to rolling out new services quickly.

4. Multiple, specialised agencies are preferred

It is interesting to see that half of the agencies believe in specialisation for growth, while the other half actually prefers combining multiple services. Marketers themselves (40%) prefer to use multiple, specialised digital agencies for their activities. Do you ever wonder why marketers stop working with an agency? Usually, this has to do with the lack of innovation or — what else? — the price.

5. Here come the consultancy firms…

Innovation. Where 66% of the marketers surveyed in 2015 thought they could organise this internally, just 14% still hold this expectation in 2017. The bad news for us as digital agencies is that consultancy firms like Accenture and Deloitte Digital are number one in bringing innovation to the market, ranking even higher than digital media partners like Google and Facebook. It may have to do with the fact that 49% of the marketers now say that C-level colleagues are overlooked in the selection of digital partners. The agencies themselves expect that, thanks to their ‘makers’ mindset, digital agencies will be able to stay in the top 3.

6. Talent attraction the biggest problem when insourcing digital teams

58% of the digital agencies expect that insourcing of digital teams will pose a threat to their activities. The corporate marketers are seemingly getting better at this, especially in the area of ​​social media, analytics and digital experiences. This year, their priorities are data, organisational culture and structure and customer insights. Interestingly, marketers have high expectations for insourcing, but a comparison of the current data to that of 2016 shows that they are just plans that never come to fruition. The reason? The search for talent appears to be more complicated for marketers on the customer side than for us as digital agencies.

7. Innovation? Creativity and data it is!

A good conclusion from the report is that marketers and digital agencies seem to be on different pages when it comes to digital innovation. 78% of the marketers believe that their organisation is ready to innovate, while only 23% of digital agencies agree with that. Too much business-as-usual and no innovation process are, according to digital agencies, the main reason why innovation cannot succeed. While the agencies seem to focus on innovation, marketers are very specific in what they want from agencies. Better designs and creativity (44%) and taking better advantage of data (43%) appear to be the key priorities.

The conclusion? As a digital agency, we will not be able to avoid insourcing, the major consultants and search for talent. But let’s all make sure that the marketers see the added-value of makers, a perspective from outsiders and digital natives who are used to today’s warp-speed world. Let’s practice what we preach!

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VP of Marketing, EMEA

Mellissa Flowerdew-Clarke