What Digital Creative Agencies Can Expect in 2019

Wesley ter Harr and Victor Knaap, the partners of Media Monks. Image courtesy of Media Monks.

Digital creative agencies are traditionally known for being disruptors. But they’re the ones now being disrupted.

Today, agencies are striving to succeed in a highly-complex, tech-driven ecosystem comprised of consultancies, product design studios, venture labs, and in-house teams, according to the findings of the latest annual SoDA Digital Outlook Report released by the Society of Digital Agencies (SoDA). In this increasingly challenging environment, the report suggests that companies and business leaders embrace collaboration, agility, transparency, speed, and a deep commitment to customer experience.

All of that is easier said than done, of course. “Clients are expecting end-to-end solutions, the agencies are fighting the consultancies, and everybody seems to be racing towards the middle,” says Wesley ter Haar, SoDA board member and founder and COO at global creative agency MediaMonks (left in the above photo). “That’s a difficult spot for a lot of people.”

In the interview below, ter Haar shares his views on the state of the industry and where it’s headed.

The SoDA Digital Outlook Report for 2018/2019 is out. Do you feel like it is an accurate reflection of the state of the industry?

Yes, it feels like everybody is racing to the same spot, so it’s getting as compressed and condensed as I think it’s ever been. I think we are seeing that reflected in some of the SoDA numbers, but also in the general turmoil in the network part of our industry. There are a lot of new lines of competition, because of everything that has been blurring over the last few years.

What is happening in the industry that is making 61 percent of agency leaders re-evaluate their business model? Is this healthy?

It is healthy in the sense that your hand is being forced because so much has changed in terms of how clients expect their businesses to be serviced. While it’s not helping people sleep well at night, I do think it is healthy. It’s no longer just about the work we do, but also how our clients expect us to execute that work.

The report says 30 percent of digital agencies are working with voice, AI, and physical experiences. Is this a stretch for shops who built their reputations on websites and apps?

There is definitely growth there. You just need to be hyper-aware this is that decision-making point where you have to decide if you are going to go after something. If so, is that actually going to be a long-term, scalable, commercial opportunity?

“Right now innovation is a shiny thing. It’s more about the perception of innovation and getting PR around something rather than it being genuinely innovative.

The Googles, Facebooks, and Amazons of the world are going to solve a lot of the heavy lifting, and we will be working with APIs like we have always done. Anything impacting at scale will not need custom solutions in time.

Why do 70 percent of client-side marketers list “brand differentiation through innovation” as…

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