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Agency Trends In the Digital Era: More Than Half of Smaller to Midsize Agencies Have Dedicated Digital Groups, New Second Wind Agency Survey Finds

It is becoming more and more apparent to agencies that they need a separate department to handle their digital business, according to Second Wind‘s 2012 Annual Agency Survey.

Among responding agencies, more than half (63%) have dedicated digital groups; 32 percent of agencies separate their digital group from the rest of the agency, a 3 percent increase from last year’s survey.

"Digital and interactive services are now an essential part of smaller agencies’ service menus," said Tony Mikes, founder and managing director of Second Wind, in a news release. "The complexity of these services requires specific skill sets not innate to traditional agencies. These older agencies have partnered with, bought and merged with interactive specialists; and interactive firms have merged with traditional firms to better supply the marketing experience and creative insights the interactive firms often lack."

"But while digital services may require dedicated personnel, it’s critical for the creative and strategic aspects of agency services to ‘cross over.’ Agencies must fully integrate digital with traditional in planning and creative execution. All tactics need to serve the brand and the ‘big idea.’"

More from the Survey Report

The percentage of agency revenue deriving from digital projects is projected to increase from 12 percent in 2011 to 13 percent in 2012. Despite the growing need for digital services, smaller agencies are slow to hire digital staff, with 51 percent having 1-2 employees, 32 percent having 3-4 employees and just 17 percent having 5-10 employees.

These digital departments encompass services from website development (96%) to email marketing (92%), social media (90%) and banner ad creation (89%). Ninety-four percent of agencies use Google analytics for digital media tracking and analysis, with the other 6 percent using DoubleClick, MediaPlex, Omniture or another resource.

Social media has become an important tactic in digital marketing. Agencies are managing and creating their clients’ Facebook pages (86%), Twitter accounts (66%), blogs (66%) and LinkedIn presences (48%). A growing number of agencies (56%) also monitor and report on client social media activity, with 43 percent relying on HootSuitePro, 20 percent using Radian6, and all respondents using a mix of other social media monitoring packages.

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