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I find it really hard to believe that someone would actually say that but if it is true my response would have to be as follows: -

I work for an agency that has made a major investment in creating a digital knowledge base and infrastucture. I work with clients (that's real clients not people I've only met once at a conference) to demonstrate solid ROI and meet objectives by strategically harnessing all the advantages of digital. I work closely with online publishers and place significant amounts of advertising with them. When I stand up at events and conferences or blog or put out press releases to tell people about digital it's based on that experience. Sometimes my client will actually come to the conference with me and share their experience. A number of other recruitment advertising agencies and other companies in the space do the same.

Now it would appear though that I don't "get it". Well if "getting it" means dissing my competition under the guise of a training session and stating both the obvious and the obviously wrong in public based on conjecture and guess work rather than experience with clients, then do you know what? I'd rather not get it

I'm fed up with the flack that gets thrown at advertising agencies without referencing any meaningful evidence.....guess what we're not all the same and also guess what....we all may just have changed and developed in a bit in the last five years!

Kork Desai

It's people like the "industry luminary" that create the mistrust between media, ad agencies and even the clients themselves.

Sure there are some ad agencies that may not get it. However that doesn't mean that they aren't trying, and sometimes all they need is a little help to get them started.

They know that if they don't move with the times ie more digital recruitment, they won't have a business to run in a few years time.

Andrew Douglas

Hopefully this won't get into another tit for tat. I think after the previous agency vs. direct debate there was at least some agreement that in any emerging industry there are the good, the bad and probably some ugly thrown in. Yes some agencies are better than others so there shouldn't be any brush tarring going on.

One point I have been worried about from a media owners perspective (print and digital) is the sometimes cavernous difference in some (NOT ALL) attitudes to digital recruitment within the same organisation. I'm talking top down usually with the top being more positive and increasing apathy on the way down, although not exclusively.

I'm sure it could be to do with similar reasons which traditional publishers have also had to come to terms with i.e. if everything moves online will we lose revenue and therefore jobs etc. I'm also aware that size, location and internal communication within any organisation are always factors.

Again I'll state that this isn't all or the majority of agencies and I'd like to throw a question to the agency fraternity - Is this issue something you're aware of whether in your company or others? If so, what do you do and what can we do to combat this?


That’s a hugely fair point Andrew – and I think the next big challenge those agencies who have invested to date in trying their best to “get it” are having to face, namely the dissemination of that knowledge and its use and execution on a day-to-day basis (within a profitable business model).

Interesting where you perceive the caverns of inadequacy – it’s certainly one thing I believe that does very much change from Agency to Agency. In some cases it’s the top level that really don’t get it (no matter the “positive sounds” they feel they should be heard to be making) whilst in others it is indeed getting the enthusiasm for and appreciation of the environment flowed down to where it matters (for both the client and to help ease the frustration of your media reps who may deal directly with traditional account handling teams) – either way without top level buy in and, I believe, quite clear setting and wholehearted pushing of the Digital agenda (and acceptance of the investment (time and money) required there-in) then Digital delivery for many will continue to reside at an “all talk and no trousers” level.

I’m sure (well I hope – if they’re realists) my DigitalRecruiting colleagues will concur that whilst executing budgets on behalf of clients who “get it” (or are starting to “get it”) is certainly challenging in its own right (in all the right ways), there’s often still resistance from both clients and all too often some of our own agency colleagues, and it’s that challenge that takes as much of our time trying to work out as almost any other.

I’d argue that no one has it right out of those of us who believe that we do indeed make a decent show of “getting it” – some service well at a “big budget, doing good strategy and execution and close MI tracking” level, others perhaps better at delivering pragmatic “digital migrator to a budget” type solutions. I think we need to see a new agency model / approach evolving (whether subtle or sea-change) that gets the best from meeting clients’ day-to-day requirements and longer term goals / objectives whilst providing the best mix of solutions (across all media and channels) appropriate to the requirement and, of course, budget. I’m not ready to consider myself an old head yet, but I’ve been doing Rec Ad for a while now and I don’t see that the traditional agency model has changed all that much (and why should it when it works well). But perhaps it’s now time to take a fresh look before the integrated solution cracks really start to show.

And I don’t think that it’s about “combating” such challenges as much as facing up to a much needed industry evolution. As you say Andrew, Media have had and are continuing to, now it’s our turn. There are as many opportunities as there are pit falls out there, maybe (if you agree with my initial point) actually more for a good agency. Our little world is changing at an alarming rate and whilst there’s definitely a place in it for everyone, if you’re not comfortable with change then I’d recommend getting that exit strategy and / or CV buffed up.


Nice point Alex, think you've summed it up quite well....although not briefly ;-)


Great blog guys and girls, generating a lot of interest so well done.

I feel compelled to post regarding this agency debate.

The fact is that most agencies still don't get it. Don’t be paranoid just accept the reality of the situation.

The posters on this blog obviously get it. You are all blazing a trail for digital and doing a damn fine job. But until every account handler in every agency has a good understanding of the benefits of online and how it works, you are always going to get huge variances in the level of service (and I mean online service) agencies are providing for their clients.

I speak to blue chip employers every day and most days I hear horror stories. Today I was speaking to a well known mobile communications company; they don’t do any job board advertising, they don’t do any PPC, nothing, no online presence whatsoever. I spoke to an engineering company last week that had been advised by their agency (an agency with a good online reputation moreover) not to bother with SEO, if they wanted a presence on search engines they should try a bit of PPC, but SEO took too long and was too complicated.

It's what makes you all so special, you are the exception to the rule.


I guess the crux of the matter is that whilst I strongly agree that some agencies still don't get it, there are a number of agencies and people within certain agencies who do. Agencies and people with real experience who over the last seven years have worked with many many clients to migrate them online and benefit from the many attributes of the digital environment.

So whoever this company is Alex that told websites to go direct to clients is, in effect, incredibly ignorant of the digital service being offered out there and is also in effect doing clients a disservice.

By all means they have a right to comment on agencies they have heard aren't so good but they should also in turn highlight the agencies who are leading the field.
Otherwise with boards going direct to clients they may experience a fragmented digital strategy with no overall approach and potentially no control and tracking. They also won't experience a ‘cascade’ effect and benefit from the best practice and experience that an agency offers as a result of working with clients of different brands, objectives and budgets.

From the previous blog on media going direct, it was obvious or I hope it was that media, agencies and clients working in partnership is the best approach in terms of driving best practice and solutions in the industry.

Alastair, it does really frustrate me to hear horror stories from clients because in 2007 it simply isn't acceptable for clients to be given inadequate digital advice and service.

As for the company that is dismissing all agencies out of hand. I'd love the opportunity to showcase MediaCom Career, I know they would be incredibly impressed and would definitely think twice about a whitewash approach to all agencies. Whoever they are, I wish they would give me a call, or maybe it simply isn’t in their interests to do so……….


Was just reading back through all of this and am moved to respond to Alistair's comment. I think saying that "most agencies don't get it" is still a very dangerous generalisation. Digital recruitment communications is a far more complex field that a lot of people give it credit for. There is also still a huge debate about what best advice and best practice actually is. So in terms of getting it...well what is it exactly! If we have to have an "it" then I think it would be much safer to say that some agencies don't get it , some of the time......


Your point is fair but what drives Alastair, OME and indeed most of the job boards if they were being honest - to occasionaly say "agencies dont get it" is -

1.the numbers of clients we come across who do online themselves (or dont do it at all) and state that their agency don't ever talk to them about online

2. The sheer media expenditure waste that we still see in newspapers, mags. And we are all aware of how much money is being made from such placments and by whom

3. The slowness of agencies over last 7-8 years to embrace it

Now i know that the founders of this blog are the ones most frustrated by the points above - but there is a huge way to go before we can say that as an industry "agencies get it" rather than brilliant individual agency and client work which is being done on a wider and wider basis.


Dom it's not the specifics I'm debating and again there is some validity in your points some of the time! It's all this generalising that frustrates the hell out of me.

I'm absolutely fed up with hearing that the more established agencies "just push traditional media because thats how they make all their money" and other such sweeping generalisations.

Yes things were pretty dire on the agency side of things a few years ago but the world has changed a lot in the last 24 months or so. To say it hasn't is simply not true. As you know I've worked for the two biggest players in the market who between them have a pretty large share of that market. They also have a combined total of over 50 digital media experts on their staffs and a combined digital media spend that runs into tens of millions. If you add to that the digital spends of agencies like Media Com, 33 and others who "get it" then I think you can see why I find these sweeping generalisations and untruths so annoying!

Yes a lot of clients still don't use digital and yes a lot of money is still spent in the press and yes some agencies probably don't get it. Did you ever consider though that often it's the clients themselves refusing best advice rather than us not giving it.

You simply can't say these kinds of things when the agencies that are acknowledged to get it cover such a large proportion of the market and spend such significant amounts of money!

Kork Desai

I think this conversation can go on for a long time!

Look at the public sector whose advertising spend is huge, how much of these revenues have moved online?

Having attempted to target the public sector market a couple of years ago, i was faced with so many excuses as to why they couldnt advertise onine, whether they had systems set in place to the fact the HR director got this PA to print out his e-mails for him to read. We decided to concentrate on the commercial sector as at least some of the clients were keen to move with the times.

On the other hand there were some agencies that didn't want to push more revenues online, one reason was that this would dramatically effect the bottom line.

Looking at this a couple of years on, is it because they didn't want to or they didn't know how to move more revenues online without going out of business?

So the question i'd like to ask all you learned people is, how do we get those clients and ad agencies to start getting it?


And this is exactly what a blog is for.

A good old debate. Thanks all for engaging.



I'd like to think I get it.

Most of the time.

Not all the time, but most of the time.

And when I don't get it, I like to know why. And then I do get it.

And that's what I love about this industry. It is constantly changing and you need to change with it - and most importantly, constantly learn and 'expand your horizons'. It's bloody brilliant.

The majority of those people involved in online recruitment care, and want to make a success and drive our industry forward.

How do we get clients and ad agencies to start getting it?

Some will. Eventually. Some already do. And some just never will. It's as simple as that. Those that do, really do. And they work flippin hard to promote it. I guess that is why this blog came about - because, as an industry, we're passionate about what we do - and want to make the industry better.

You know, I don't think we're ever going to completely agree on this point because, in a way, I think it seems that a lot of agencies are still frustratingly behind the times - hiding behind that same old excuse: 'there's no money in it'. Rubbish.

And I think we shouldn't worry about them. Short term, they are a frustration to us all. Longer term? Well, let's just see...

But at the same time, and I guess the real point here, is that don't tar the whole industry just because of a selection of agencies that don't and won't get it. I know how hard I've worked over the last 6-7 years to make this work, and I also know how hard my peers - most of whom have contributed to this string - have also worked, in their own way and their own environment, to make this industry what it is. We don't all do it the same way - that would be dull - but we do all care. And believe in what we do. And that's what this is about.

Their's a truckload of knowledge and expertise in agencies working hard to make this happen - just not every agency. But certainly it is a fair way off the mark to just state that 'agencies don't get it cos they don't make as much money at it'. Why not just leave it there.

As an aside, this is great! An educated, passionate debate about an important industry topic. I love it how dedicated this industry is about this industry - crap English I realise, but it is great.

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