Does interactive belong inside an advertising agency?

Agency Client relationshipsThe debate continues as to whether digital and interactive services would be more effective sitting within traditional advertising agencies. An article in the latest B&T Magazine (“Is digital the last piece of the agency puzzle”) considers both sides of this argument. Let me add to this discussion by making a few points:

• I think we all agree that the skill set required for interactive is very different to that of an advertising agency. This is demonstrated by the lack of staff transfer (at all levels) between these organisations.
• I believe that designers who are trained/experienced in interactive design are much more likely to be able to also deliver high quality offline items (eg. Logos, business cards, brochures etc), whilst the reverse is not true – primarily due to usability differences required in interactive.
• When a client engages a mainstream agency (and its digital arm) to deliver an integrated campaign there has to be one lead agency, which means there is always a fight for budget and dominance between the two. This often leads to a compromised solution.
• Proximity of the advertising agency and the digital agency is not as vital to successful integration as is effective communication and process.

It should be noted that I have worked on both sides – in a digital arm of a mainstream advertising agency as well as in a dedicated interactive agency. Theoretically the fully integrated solution sounds nice however in reality the points above can contribute to a less than optimal outcome. Everyone needs to remember that it is possible to deliver an integrated campaign without using one agency to achieve it…

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