Death Of The Digital-Only Agency? Marketing Students Say It’s Coming In 10 Years

the-end-200pxIf you run a standalone digital agency or an agency that specializes in a specific vertical like social media, your days are numbered.

That’s the conclusion of a recent study of more than 2,000 European marketing students — in the UK, France, Spain and Belgium, to be more specific. The study, “Next Generation of Marcoms,” asked a variety of questions to students between 20 and 25 years old that are studying Advertising, Marketing Communications, Design, PR and Events.

(Note for those who may not know: “Marcoms” is short for marketing communications and is commonly used to describe a holistic marketing approach involving online and offline elements.)

More than 86 percent of the students agreed that social/digital agencies will no longer be standalone specialists 10 years from now; they’ll either be consumed by full-service agencies, or become one themselves.


Similarly, about 90 percent of the students said that the agency they’d be working for in 10 years would be full-service, where marketers would be comfortable creating strategies in advertising, direct, social, digital and public relations.

Anne Pflimlin, Managing Partner at MediaSchool Group (the survey organizer) says that, for student marketers, “questions of disciplines, silos and channels, which so often seem to dominate the marketing industry today — simply don’t exist. This generation is utterly agnostic about channel or medium.”

To a large degree, the study results reflect how today’s young marketers expect advertising to evolve into a discipline that’s based more on content and conversation, not sales pitches. Consider:

  • 71 percent agreed or strongly agreed that “PR thinking” — where the creation of word-of-mouth and trust for brands is most important — would dominate the way agencies respond to briefs in 10 years
  • 70 percent said that, in 10 years, advertising’s job would be mostly to entertain and not to sell

Rumors Of Facebook’s Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

You’ve probably heard plenty of stories lately about youths leaving Facebook for Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and other social services. But recent Pew research indicates that Facebook is still the dominant social network for younger Americans.

This survey of young European marketing students agrees: 77 percent said Facebook is the best social media tool for reaching their generation, far ahead of Twitter and YouTube, which rated second and third, respectively.


There’s good news in the survey for Twitter, too: Almost 60 percent of the students disagreed with the statement “Twitter is not a medium for advertising to my generation.”

The study was conducted by MediaSchool Group, a European business school. The study is available as a free PDF that can currently be found in the lower left of their home page. It’s a French-language website; so, if you’re not fluent and prefer a direct link, here you go.

(tip via

(Stock image via Used under license.)

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | Internet Marketing Industry | Internet Marketing Industry: Stats | Statistics: General | Top News


About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Marketing Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • James Norquay

    Interesting, but I think we will still see specialization in the future in areas such as Data for example. But I do agree people are expected to be experts in all areas in today’s market.

  • clickworkmedia

    20-25 year old marketing students? Uh-huh. While they clearly have a lot of theoretical knowledge, they clearly have absolutely no commercial awareness i.e. how revenue is generated from the provision of services. To have an employee with a specialised skillset encompassing all of the above is stupid – it’s like hiring a web developer an expecting him or her to be equally competent in PHP, JavaScript, HTML, CSS, jQuery, logo design, front-end design etc.

    It’s naivety – wait till they sit in on an actual meeting, a real life one, where objectives have to be met and money is on the line. Then they can give us their opinion.

  • RyanMJones

    I can’t wait until digital is more than just another silo. We’ve still got a long way to go though.

  • Nahida Meah

    clickworkmedia It’s a shame that this survey is undermining the efforts of many digital marketing agencies globally. I don’t see any concrete evidence showing that stand-alone agencies will disappear in a decade.

    Marketer’s aren’t just there to entertain customers, they are often the middle man between a company and it’s customers. In the past couple of years, I’ve seen companies outsource their social media marketing from digital marketing companies like the one I work at. This form of marketing also works as a form of customer service – not all businesses have enough time to converse with their followers/fans.

  • Nahida Meah

    Relating to this, please could you check out an article we wrote a couple of months ago about the importance of communication in marketing – whether it be through social media or content marketing!…

  • Alex Brown

    They’re right. The integration of big data within digital spend means digital/social agencies will be absorbed or perish.

  • SMDigital Partners

    Here at SMDigital Partners, we are a Full Service Digital Agency with over 100 employees in 6 international cities. Our teams are broken down in to “compartments” all helping each other out – teams of graphic designers, SEM, SEO, Local SEO, Social Media, Programmers / Coders all work together to get the job done.

    What is interesting is to see how Facebook continues to remain relevant – We are big Facebook users down here in South Florida and the goal is to always to build up your network with the right “fans” –

    Thanks for this great report !!

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