December 22, 2014

Why Are Agency Blogs So Unpopular?

It's Christmas week and while I'm terribly busy stuffing myself and drinking immoderately, I am nonetheless aware of the needs of the many ad people who require a daily dose of skepticism. Today, we are re-running a piece from last summer which questions the sincerity of the ad industry's strongly established belief in the power of social media.

Agencies are often asked this question: If advertising is so effective, why don't you advertise?

The answer they usually give is this: Our potential customer group (target market) is so small that mass market advertising is imprudent. Instead we use marketing techniques that are more productive for a company like ours that needs to talk to a very small group of prospects one at a time.

This semi-baloney usually satisfies the questioner.

But this excuse only holds up because of the expense of traditional advertising. The same excuse can't be invoked for their lack of effective use of social media or content marketing. That stuff is "free."

Agencies are constantly haranguing their clients about the need to harness the magic of social media and content marketing -- and the expertise they can deliver if the client will just pay them to do it -- and yet the social media and content marketing efforts of agencies for themselves is somewhere between pathetic and non-existent.

Blogs are a perfect example. I recently checked two websites that measure the popularity of advertising and marketing blogs. (As you would expect with online metrics, the lists are alarmingly inconsistent -- on one list this blog is #21 on another it's #55.)

But here's the amazing thing. Put both lists of top 50 advertising and marketing blogs together and you find exactly one agency blog. One.

Now if I'm not mistaken, agencies are supposed to be the experts at social media and content. I mean, companies pay them handsomely to produce this stuff.

Considering that virtually every agency in the universe has some kind of blog, and considering their unique expertise at producing "compelling content" and their amazing online marketing skills, you'd think agencies would dominate the lists of advertising and marketing blogs.

Why don't they?

There are only two possible explanations. The first is that they are not competent to create anything that anyone wants to read. I doubt that this is the reason.

I think the real reason is the second possibility -- they're full of shit.

They tell their clients to invest in the awesome power of social media and content marketing, but they are unwilling to do it themselves. They won't spend their own time and money on this magic, but they're eager to spend their clients'.

Apparently what's good for the goose is not good for the gander.  After all, the goose lays golden eggs.


Ed said...

Great piece. Sadly, I think area you are rather generous. I know of several content agencies that are incapable of producing anything worth reading. They are also, incidentally, full of shit. I'm not all agencies are so poor of course. Some are superb, but still have rubbish blogs.

Jay said...

I agree in part, but the other part is that as agencies have slimmed down there's no non-billable time available to write these blogs. Having someone putting in time to write without it going on an invoice? That stuff will get you laid off these days.

Charlotte said...

Why would anyone want to read about superfluous crap about brands, conversations, value streams and agency culture that includes microbrews and dogs at work.
Oh, wait. That's what everyone who writes about advertising writes about . . . except you, and of course, George.

Akhil Sethi said...

I agree with Jay here. I think the major reason agencies don't invest too much time in this is because of the "non-revenue generating" resources they have to allocate for this kind of work. Consider a situation where those resources will be working on agency's blog rather than doing work for any of their clients which can generate income. Nobody would want that situation!