As digital agencies become more entrenched in the infrastructure of the media industry, and as traditional agencies strive to keep their skills current, it begs the question: Who will lead and who will follow? Should those with proven experience in marketing and its fundamentals be guiding their digital brethren through the intricacies of a media campaign, or should the digital wunderkinds be taking the helm as more and more of the audience’s attention shifts to non-traditional platforms like the web, mobile, and social networking?
Today’s ad:tech morning keynote speaker, Kristi VandenBosch, is among an elite group of professionals who may just be qualified to answer this question – those who came from a digital background and went on to lead a traditional agency. After seven years building Tequila, VandenBosch is now the CEO of industry stalwart Publicis & Hal Riney.
Media leadership is a complex issue in the digital age. But VandenBosch was able to put it into a bit of perspective, declaring that the battle actually centers on getting credit for ideas, rather than demanding control or looking to lead. VandenBosch also views the battle in more technical terms than the average agency leader. She asserts that the fundamental difference between the two groups has to do with the notion of systems versus objects.
VandenBosch explained that traditional agencies think in terms of objects – self-contained creative and strategic units. Meanwhile, digital agencies, which have always needed to find a place for themselves in the marketing ecosystem, are used to thinking in terms of systems, which manage and connect those objects. In her mind, precious few companies do both well.
Her solutions to the problem involves agencies on both sides adopting a platform of open source, or collaborative, thinking. Of course, the trick is to pick the right partners to collaborate with. VandenBosch feels that agencies should strive to work with other organizations with complementary strengths, rather than those who think your expertise is less valuable than theirs. “Anyone who decides they can take your platform and use it better than you can is not who you want to surround yourself with,” she says.