Tuesday, April 28, 2009

OnlineSpin: Model Of An Engagement-Based Agency?

Last week Joe wrote "Will P&G Lead The Way In Social Media By Reinventing Soap Operas?"

Rob Tait wrote in response, "Your observations on the need for brands to add to the traditional interruptive model are bang-on.

However, unless agencies transform themselves radically, branded story telling (or branded entertainment) initiatives are not going to rest with them.

Rather, we'll see a new breed of marketing communications company develop. A 'post agency' company if you will, that will be able to speak equally well to both marketing and story telling.

One such company, Fresh Baked Entertainment out of Toronto, is a good example of this hybrid approach.

As prime time viewing habits move online, FBE creates branded webisodes anchored in the brand that give consumers something to talk about via social media."

Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Model Of An Engagement-Based Agency?
By Joe Marchese

I have made no secret of my love affair with engagements as a baseline metric for digital media. Over the past two months I have written that "I'm Sold On Engagement"  and that I firmly believe "Engagements Will Be The Internet's 30-Second Spot." In both columns I argue that in order for marketers and agencies to achieve both scale and a method of marketing that is truly native to the social media landscape, they should be focused on engagements. Engagements provide what marketers are looking for at the most basic level: that people are actively paying attention and that they are ready, willing and able to receive a marketing message.  Even better, engagement means that marketers are leveraging not only sight, sound and motion, but the all-important fourth element unique to new media, interaction.

So when Big Fuel  gave me a sneak peek a few weeks ago of its aim to provide comprehensive solutions to marketers as "The Consumer Engagement Agency," you can imagine I was an enthusiastic audience. This video lays out how Big Fuel looks at the need for a new type of agency at the table with marketers, hence the title "A New Seat."  (Disclosure: SocialVibe is working with Big Fuel for a shared client).  So if a new agency seat, or at least a new agency role, makes sense, the obvious next question is: what does this mean for traditional agencies?

You'll notice a common thread in discussions over the past couple of months, both in my columns and in many other industry pieces. We have even begun to explore the cross-section of "traditional" agency skills required to manage clients' social media efforts in "The Future Agency Of Record Will Be Social." So does the creation of an agency model based around the metric most appropriate and most impactful for clients make sense? It did when reach and frequency were the most important and effective metrics, and agency models were developed around buying more media in bulk. All this begs the question, what are the proper skill sets to apply when engagements are what an agency is looking to deliver? And perhaps more important, what are the areas of "shared responsibility" between an agency and a client?

This is only the beginning of the discussion, but it points in one direction: a new agency model. What is even more exciting, we are starting to see that model take shape. I have just started reading a book by Bridge Worldwide's Bob Gilbreath. (The book isn't out yet, but I promise to give more details and a full report once I have finished, and so far I am loving it.) In the book Gilbreath lays out the need for a marketing framework that provides value to people first.

Bridge Worldwide is innovating the agency model, and it is part of the largest holding company in the world, while independent agencies like Big Fuel, 360i  and Deep Focus  are building engagements and social into their DNA. I don't know about you, but to me there seems to be some patterns forming in the madness on the next evolution of marketing, even if there are still questions on how to best achieve it. What do you think? Find me on Twitter at @joemarchese ( http://twitter.com/joemarchese) and keep the conversation going.


Joe Marchese is President of socialvibe.

Online Spin for Tuesday, April 28, 2009:

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