When my oldest daughter was very young, she used to say to me, "Mom! You can't make up any of your minds!" Of course, that's adorable, but I think of that every now and then when I'm having trouble deciding which course to take on an important decision. The major decision of where to establish myself in the market has been a difficult journey. From my earliest post on this blog (January?), I've been touring around the business, catching up with old friends, meeting new personalities, reading everything that seemed noteworthy. and trying to figure out what the meaningful trends are.
I'm happy to report I'm narrowing down the choices. I'm definitely going to start tracking the web consultancy/interactive agency sector. This is the sector I was tracking before– in 1999-2000. There are obviously new firms in this space, but the entire sector is growing and moving in a direction I want to go. In addition, there are firms who've survived from the early days, well one– Sapient, who has a heritage as a systems integrator. The firms who are building brands online and through all digital meda include companies like aQuantive which owns the category leader Avenue A|Razorfish (remember that name?) and Digitas.
As you're reading this, I want you to think about the answer to this question: When is the last time you watched television? Not HBO, not a pay-per-view movie or something you recorded on your DVR, but a T.V. show? Today's equivalent of Laverne & Shirley? Does it seem like sometime in the 80s? For a lot of us, that's a reality. Chief Marketing Officers of global brands are realizing that spending all their ad budgets on broadcast (t.v.) and print (magazines/newspapers) is old school. (Read how advertising is under crisis.) Billions of dollars, yes billions of dollars, are going to be surging into the digital channel over the next few years as advertisers look to reach consumers where they are– on their laptops, their BlackBerries, their PSPs, their iPods. This spike will flow to the digital agencies. They may party like it's 1999 all over again for a little while, but soon enough, they're going to have to start building capability as their global customers pull them deeper into transaction-oriented e-commerce.
I was talking last week to VP Bill Kanarick who's over in Sapient's London office. He said, "Any one who truly understands these markets would probably concur that delivery of technology capability through the lens of being an interactive agency is going to be increasing important. I think companies that are not able to do that and that exist squarely in the interactive agency space are going to find themselves downstream because clients are going to be asking for more of that and the inability to deliver that is going to hurt them."
So there you have it. Marketing and Technology. And a new generation of users who demand excellence from both. Awesome.