When you hear “marketing agencies”, what is the first thing that pops into your head? In my mind, marketing agencies are found in the tallest of buildings, located in the middle of the city, and filled with people buzzing with ideas, ready to hone in their clients’ next big campaign that will flood our streets, radios, newspapers, phones, etc. Basically, whatever you can lay your eyes on, or tune into- that is where you will see their next advertisement campaign.
When you look past the sensory overload, and the gimmick, you know, the tagline that pulls you in, “just do it”; “I’m loving it”; “Because you’re worth it”, have you ever thought why is it that you are seeing that advert at the right time and the right place? And no, it’s not the Russians listening in. In fact, it’s a little bit more complex and requires more brain work than you think. It is still within the realm of the marketing agency, it’s just that their role is simply evolving. 

Have you ever thought why is it that you are seeing the advert at the right time and the right place? And no, it’s not the Russians listening in…

Now, let’s turn to the medium that we cannot live without in 2021: the internet. As the world began to go online, so did marketing, hence the rise of digital agencies.
These digital agencies have been popping up since the late 90’s, and just as it says in their name, their goal is to market a business; their products and services in a digital world. 
In the early days, advertisement possibilities were limited to collaborations and affiliate marketing, which may sound complicated, but it’s not- just time intensive.
For collaboration marketing, if there was a specific website you wanted to advertise on, you would have to personally write the webmaster (i.e., the page owner), and strike some kind of deal to place your product or banner on their website.
Affiliate marketing, probably the grandpa of what we know as influencer-marketing today, is a bit more sophisticated than ‘renting banner space’ on a website. Here, you only pay IF the generated traffic converts to revenue. This is also known as commission-based collaborations.
Now, since it was the early days of the internet and this newfound way of advertising, no true performance marketing activities were possible due to the basic tracking and targeting tools available at the time. The performance evaluation of these novice online campaigns were similar to that of the classic marketing channels such as printed media, radio or TV.
This “one-size-fits-all” toolkit for online marketing was frustrating, especially as you did not know if your ad was being seen by your target audience, let alone if they liked it. 
Luckily enough for these agencies, as the internet and companies advanced into new territories, more sophisticated digital opportunities emerged too.
Google, first known as BackRub, was the brainchild of two Standford students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. They believed that all information in the world should be made universally accessible, hence the birth of the search engine that receives over 5 billion searches daily. 
Now, that is a lot of searches… Which means a lot of eyes are scrolling through these carefully selected internet pages. Do you see where I am going with this? If not, let’s break it down: lots of searches means lots of eyes which billboards for YOUR company that are ‘hidden’ between the lines of what they are looking for.
Google led this quiet digital revolution, and set the trend for all social sites that followed, like Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and so on. With this improved and somewhat optimized way of reaching your audience, lots of marketing tools evolved tremendously. This made a lot of things that seemed impossible, possible, for example:

Audience building

There are almost an infinite number of demographics, a combination of them that can define your target audience. This means that it’s important to filter and figure out which sets of characteristics are shared by the people you want to reach. With these tools, not only can you identify who falls into this audience, but also engage and cultivate new and expanded audiences. This image represents audience segmentation done by digital marketing agencies as a tool for optimizing online campaigns


Acquisition, re-targeting, and retention campaigns

Now, that you have found your audience, it’s time to target them with the right campaigns.
  1. Acquisition campaigns aim to attract new customers into your digital ecosystem.
  2. Re-targeting, also known as re-marketing, are campaigns that you use on your audience to remind them of your products and services when they leave your website without purchasing anything. The objective here is to help keep your brand in front of ‘bounced traffic’, as for most companies only 0.3-0.5% of web traffic converts on the first visit. 
  3. Unlike the first two, retention campaigns are all about making sure that your existing customers, your OG audience, are happy, engaged and keep using your product/services. 

This image represents the targeting of audiences for specific online campaigns by digital marketing agencies



Understanding the user

Even if you know your audience, or what campaign to use, you still need to put on your ‘Freudian cap’ and peek into their minds and get to know them better. By doing this, you create more relevant and action-provoking ads for your audience. 
This image represents digital marketing agencies trying to understand the audience that they are targeting within campaigns
The list goes on, but in a nutshell, digital marketing agencies are equipped with tools and know-how that allow for detailed campaigns and product optimization. They make sure that no online activity is done without nailing your target audience.  
As we enter 2021, digital agencies are at a new tipping point where the audience targeting mechanisms are being handed over to the machine learning algorithms, as they have proven to already be far better at optimizations than humans. In other words, yes, technology is slowly replacing us. 
However, what this actually means, is that the role of the agency is changing from pure campaign management to campaign support with top-level data analysis. The agencies add the human touch that the algorithm lacks, as this ‘new’ role requires them to analyse the marketing activities in a holistic way to understand how the digital ecosystem works.  Through understanding this, agencies can see how marketing networks interact with each other, allowing for the optimization of all the user paths to ensure the best results and budget spend for their client. The algorithm is dependent on the agencies, as the ad-copies and creative optimizations that are created by the agencies are fed to it. 
The future for digital marketing is bright but lies in automatization. The role of these agencies will continue to adapt to this dynamic digital ecosystem, where their roles will be to set up the right environment for the ‘smart bidding’ algorithms and ensure that they are working efficiently.  Agencies will continue to add the human touch to the work of the algorithms that they feed with the most relevant data (only the best for our algorithm), and will begin to play more prominent roles in the brand-building process and overall product development based on the customers’ needs and behaviors. Although it seems that technology is replacing us, don’t worry, you do not need to change career paths yet. The reality is that the industry is still quite young and going through changes that seem a little daunting. We just need to remember that this is a normal phase in the ‘business evolution’ process.
Peter Balla

Peter Balla

Peter is our Marketing team Lead here at Scalista, with over 15 years in the biz’. While most of his experience is in e-commerce, he is definitely a connoisseur in many digital marketing topics, and recently has taken great interest in the world of apps. It comes as no surprise that he is just as good at carpentry as he is with building growth strategies for our clients. And when he is not in the (home) office, Peter enjoys going on bike rides and skiing. If you would like to connect with our salmon-loving, digital marketing connoisseur, you can find him on LinkedIn.

Megan Joye McFadden

Megan Joye McFadden

Megan is our marketing assistant at Scalista. She is biotech student who (kind of) switched lanes over into business, and has a flair for all things creative. When she is not assembling all the expertise from our team into a coherent blog, she can be found dabbling in all kinds of activities that involve podcasts, science communication and baking. If you would like to get in touch with our black-tea-with-milk-and-sugar-drinking blog writer, you can find her on LinkedIn.

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