Companies have more opportunities than ever to reach consumers thanks in large part to the proliferation of digital channels, but taking advantage of those opportunities can be difficult.
From display and mobile to social and video, figuring out the best way to use digital channels is no small undertaking.
So it's no surprise that many companies turn to agencies for answers.
A strong agency can help its clients succeed, but for companies looking to one or more agencies to help with digital, it's worth considering that there are things agencies aren't saying.
Here are five of the most important.
1. We're faking it, and hoping we make it
From social media to real-time bidding and everything in between, clients have increasingly turned to agencies looking for help with digital channels.
Unfortunately, because the number of channels is growing, they're increasingly complex and what works isn't yet firmly established, agencies often have just as much expertise (or, more appropriately, lack thereof) as their clients.
The problem: in many cases, agencies don't recognize this, and if they do, they're not likely to tell you.
2. We're not as big/small as you think
For many clients, size matters. So it's no surprise that agencies often lie about their size in an effort to win business.
The result: a client doesn't really know its agency, which can be, for obvious reasons, problematic.
3. You don't want us building websites
Many companies hire an agency looking for strategy and creative expertise, but end up relying on them to do commoditized tasks, like build websites attached to a marketing campaign.
This may seem like a pragmatic approach, but in many cases, clients are overpaying and, as evidenced by a commenter, agencies are underdelivering.
4. Juniors and contractors will be carrying much of the weight
It's no secret that agencies rely on junior staff and freelancers, and there's nothing inherently bad about this. But the extent to which less experienced staff and non-staff are involved in client delivery is often not transparent to clients.
This is frequently the case with commoditized services, like the implementation of websites, and, as noted above, leaves clients overpaying for deliverables of mediocre quality (or worse).
5. Our interests aren't always aligned
Any reputable agency will want to see its clients succeed. After all, a successful client is a happy client, and a happy client is likely to remain a client.
But this doesn't mean that an agency's interests are perfectly aligned with those of its clients. This can be particularly true when it comes to assessing campaign performance, as agencies have an incentive to show their campaigns in a more favorable light than an objective observer would.
In digital channels like social media, where ROI is a tricky subject, less-savvy clients may have little ability to call their agencies on questionable assessments.