Digital agencies are coming along fairly well when it comes to mobile marketing strategy and execution — so says Melissa Parrish, senior analyst at Forrester Research and author of a recent report independently ranking the nine U.S. digital agencies “that matter most and how they stack up.”
Parrish said there are two main takeaways from the report: One, that all of the agencies surveyed appear to understand the need for integration — “mobile marketing should not exist in a silo,” she said — and two, that there is little differentiation between the agencies when it comes to mobile marketing, an indication that the channel is clearly growing in importance.
And agencies say they’re going to put their money where their collective mouths are. In response to mobile growth, Parrish found that almost half of the interactive marketers featured in the survey are planning to increase their mobile marketing budgets.
But are they really ready? Parrish told me she thinks the agencies surveyed are, for the most part, prepared to deliver on the mobile imperative, though some are still in the experimentation phase.
“What I found really interesting is that while 50% of marketers said they plan to increase their budgets, the vast majority were starting with budgets that were under half a million dollars, which isn’t very much when you realize we’re talking about huge enterprises and marketers who have millions to spend,” she said.
The nine digital agencies featured in the Wave have already moved beyond the experimentation and are “ready to put real investment against mobile,” said Parrish, who noted that this is one of the reasons these agencies ended up making the final cut. Also important to Parrish, and what made the leaders, well, the leaders, is whether the agencies had clear visions for their future with mobile and whether they could prove that their claims about what they could deliver to clients matched up with reality.
So, how did the agencies rank?
- SapientNitro received the highest client scores across all criteria and maintains a “clear and forward-looking vision for mobile.”
- AKQA‘s innovative strategies make it a good choice for progressive brands, but it could do more to prove its chops for the less adventurous set.
- Ogilvy has a solid vision for the future of mobile, though Parrish found it would also benefit by paying greater attention to “more immediate needs” related to execution technology and methodology.
- Though clients love TribalDDB‘s proprietary backend technology and its ability to integrate mobile with other strategies, there’s room for improvement when it comes to post-launch optimization.
- Razorfish has sound strategic development skills and solid execution. What’s it missing? Value. Clients would prefer more competitive pricing for its services.
- iCrossing‘s solid strategic methodology is there in spades, but some clients feel it’s a little too rigid. The agency needs to be a bit more flexible so as to adapt to the needs of specific clients.
- While VML has a “pragmatic get-it-done attitude” and works well with other agencies, it doesn’t challenge its clients to be innovative.
- Though Rosetta scores high for incorporating audience insights into mobile strategy, clients would prefer more competitive pricing and teams with more mobile experience.
- In June 2011, four WWP agencies merged to form Possible Worldwide. While the newly combined group has satisfactory offerings in the way of strategy and execution, they’re less mature than the other agencies in the Wave.
Though these interactive agencies have got it down (mostly), Parrish advised agencies and marketers alike, whether they were featured in the Wave or not, to remember that mobile marketing is not exclusively about the “new, new new or the flashy, flashy, flashy.”
“Mobile is still in such an emerging stage,” Parrish said. “So mastering the fundamentals is just as important.”