A Long Long Road Ahead – Australia’s Digital Industry

Australia's Digital Industry

6 weeks ago I returned to Australia after a 2 years of working in the UK digital industry.

Despite keeping a very close eye on the market here I felt like a freshie jumping back into the Australian digital pond. And so now as I establish myself in my new role and am getting re-acquainted with the market I feel I am well equipped to give a outsiders views on our industry – before I become completely sub-merged in it.

Since returning I have invested a lot of time in establishing a digital roster and also found time to attend the Digital Marketing & Media Summit 2009 in Melbourne. All of this listening and active dialogue with “experts” in the space has allowed me to draw some conclusions on the state of our market – which demonstrate some very harsh realities. It’s a long long road ahead!

Let’s start with agencies – over the past few weeks I have met with a whole host of agencies ranging from so called search experts to digital generalists and whilst there are some shining stars, the rest resemble cowboys in the wild west. I am amazed by the many high profile search agencies that sell their automated link building services through their “network” of sites, and digital agencies who clearly display a lack of basic knowledge of how to structure an email template. So it is no wonder there is not a flurry of digital case studies demonstrating successful monetization of the channel here in Australia.

Digital Marketing & Media Summit 2009However the cream on my digital cake was today when I attended the Digital Marketing & Media Summit 2009 which showcased what should have been the creme de la creme of the industry. Putting aside the few star performers, the majority left me wondering where some of the truly good examples are hiding. To hear Nissan’s agency discuss their latest campaign was a real eye opener. Their agency expressed as part of the z370 launch there was a Facebook page which low and behold resulted in replies from consumers to their surprise. So what happened? This caused a problem because no one could monitor it therefore their move into social media was considered by the agency as an unsuccessful attempt showing the sheer lack of knowledge of the space.

Or perhaps what was more frightening was the iSpyLevi case study where the agency was asked if the campaign showed any contribution to sales which the agency replied that they didn’t know. I understand that social media doesn’t always have a direct flow on effect but with such a high profile campaign surely there was some uplift and what’s more surely the agency would want to know this important information. And to top it off during the campaign period they took their site down, in a time where users should most likely be attracted to their site to possibly buy.

So in an industry where client side professionals are dependent on agencies to advice, it’s no wonder senior executives are still worried if an investment in a certain area of digital will pay dividends.

So faced with this market, what is a client marketer to do? From one client side marketer to another here are my top tips to navigate the agency landscape and find suppliers who get digital;

1) Client side marketers need to invest more time to learn about digital from the local and global industry. Gather your knowledge from trusted sources and retrain yourself so you can make educated decisions. Sites such as digitalministry.com.au, internetretailing.com.au and even the blog onlinemarketingbanter.com are great places to start locally. Globally leverage sites such as eConsultancy.com, sphinn.com (which is a social bookmarking site for marketers) or davechaffey.com for digital in general or for search usesearchengineland.com, seomoz.org or even seobook.com
2) Question your agency and re-question their abilities. If they have done one campaign it doesn’t make them an expert – and if they are a traditional agency question if they really have the ability and knowledge in the digital space. Your brand is not a playground for experimentation.
3) Meet with lots of suppliers before making a decision. There are good agencies out there but you need to spend the time to find them.
Social Media Metrics4) Go by recommendations; Of the few digital professionals you trust or look up to on the client side – seek their recommendations PS if you are still unsure on this one and need some help drop me a line am happy to provide recommendations.
5) What about the metrics – Find out what the agency has delivered – not just view their creative. Many agencies are so proud of their micro-sites and mobile apps that they haven’t had time to stop and measure what they have delivered. Yes this in a space which has far more measurability than any other.
6) Ask for transparency – This is particularly crucial for search – if an agency cannot provide visibility of your AdWords account or will not tell you what they are doing to get you to rank in Google then run for the hills. If your site gets blacklisted for bad SEO behaviour your URL will be stripped from the index with a slim chance to return or rank again.

What do you think about the Australian digital industry? I would love to hear your thoughts.

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