Survey Tracks Changing Relationships Between Marketers and Agencies

SoDA, the Global Society for Digital Marketing innovators, has released the 2014 edition of The SoDA Report. The report includes its annual Digital Marketing Outlook survey of the changes taking place within digital marketing agencies and their clients.

SoDAReportLogoThe findings reveal key shifts in marketer/agency relationships, weaknesses in advertiser expertise, and mismatches between what advertisers and agencies believe are most valuable to clients.

There are also startling perception differences over clients’ attempts to transform their businesses, and disconnects over why clients walk away from agencies.

The research also highlights steep learning curves inside agencies when it comes to acting on data insights, as well as using digital information to propel deeper personalization. As clients increase investment, agencies need to stay ahead in data, mobile and product innovation.

Conducted in partnership with Econsultancy, Digital Marketing Outlook is based on a global sample, evenly split between advertisers and agencies, which represent a total annual marketing spend of $25.4 billion. In total there were 736 respondents, the large majority being senior company decision-makers.Slightly more than one-third (36%) of the respondents were based in North America; 22% were in Europe, and 21% were based in Asia-Pacific nations. Executives with global responsibilities contributed 11% and the rest came from South America and Africa.

Key Findings

After years of dramatic growth, half the marketers surveyed are keeping digital marketing budgets level in 2014 (up from a third in 2013). However, there was a notable rise in spend on non-marketing related  initiatives, including data, mobile and product innovation, with one in three clients increasing budgets in these areas.

  • Nearly 70% of clients believe being seen as an early adopter is key or important to their brand position.
  • Clients are increasingly seeking specialized digital services from agencies rather than looking for the traditional agency of record (AOR) agreement. This is in part recognition of the amount of digital work now carried out in-house.
  • Agencies believe advertisers still lack digital talent, with 50% or more highlighting gaps in paid-, earned- and owned-media strategy and execution as well as user experience and product innovation.
  • User experience was identified as the biggest gap on the client side with 77% of agency respondents citing it as a weakness.
  • The number of advertisers working with zero agencies has risen for the second successive year, with 13% managing the process in-house (slightly up on 2013).
  • The number of agency leaders concerned about off-shoring jumped almost 10%, up from 22% in 2013 to 31% in 2014.
  • The number of agency leaders identifying commoditization of digital product work as a serious problem rose 9% on last year.
  • 86% of respondents said the best route to future growth was product and platform creation – up 3% on 2013.

Disparities – What Clients Want

While all agreed marketing creativity was most important, clients rated product and service innovation second, while agencies rated it fourth in importance. Agencies rated customer-centered marketing for clients third, while clients scored it fifth in terms of priority.

Over 60% of clients felt their digital agency was excellent or good at evaluating digital trends for practical use. However, nearly one in three agency respondents (29%) do not offer any training on current or emerging trends and technologies, a missed opportunity to increase revenue and for clients to capitalize on the changes.

Why Clients Leave

The number one reason for clients walking away was outgrowing their agency’s ability to deliver against their needs (27%). Agencies overwhelmingly pointed to new client management as the number one reason (39%). Agency respondents ranked failure to deliver for clients’ growing needs a distant fourth, a major discrepancy. The specific service areas clients cited the most for termination was dissatisfaction with strategy (11%). Few agencies (6%) viewed this as the root problem.

Positive Outlook

The outlook is bright for agencies that offer the services clients need. Successful agencies saw more buy-in from clients, with growth in retainer- based work (up 21%) and a significant rise in agency investments (up 28%). Agencies that have invested in incubators – 50% of respondents – reported great success with talent retention and new business wins both up.

Other Areas of Difference

Agencies are more pessimistic about the future of AOR relationships than clients. While 57% of agencies believe AOR relationships are disappearing, half (49%) of clients believe that is the case.

Chris Buettner, SoDA executive director and managing editor of The SoDA Report, said: “Clients are doing more digital in-house than ever. But increasing levels of sophistication and elaborate in-house digital teams do not have to translate into diminished revenue for digital agencies. The opportunity is in data, mobile and product innovation – areas of high demand.

“Digital agencies that provide the core value trinity: creative marketing, innovation, and expertise in emerging trends and opportunities, can more deeply embed themselves in internal client teams, build stronger digital expertise across marketing and customer experience, and continue to prosper in 2014 and 2015.”

The SoDA Report is one of the most widely-read publications in the digital marketing industry, with over 250,000 downloads in 2013.

In addition to the SoDA/Econsultancy Digital Marketing Outlook Survey, the report also includes original articles by the industry’s finest minds, exclusive interviews with thought leaders, as well as case studies of the world’s best digital marketing campaigns.


Teacher Seeks to Reinvent Storytelling with Transmedia Project

Jonathan Belisle, a Montreal teacher, script writer and web entrepreneur, has a storytelling system that combines old and new, traditional mythology and modern technology, and fantasy and reality.

Wuxia the Fox is a transmedia project that comes as an illustrated book paired with an iPad app.

Using the iPad app to read the symbolic blocks placed on one of the maps in the book. (PRNewsFoto/Wuxia the Fox )

Using the iPad app to read the symbolic blocks placed on one of the maps in the book. (PRNewsFoto/Wuxia the Fox )

“The app reacts to what it hears and sees,” explains Belisle. “As you read the story, the app adds the music and sound effects, based on where you are in the story and the tone of your voice. It’s the future of children’s books.”

The iPad app triggers new scenes of content using image recognition, and transforms into a musical instrument when interacting with small wooden blocks provided with the book.

It’s a revolutionary way to tell stories – for young and old. The messages in this kids’ book deal with the climate changes, earth and dreams. “This can be a tool for young people to increase their awareness of the technological and ecological changes currently underway,” said Belisle. “In addition to weaving a great tale, it can inspire people to be more environmentally responsible.”

Jonathan Belisle presenting Wuxia's Book & App interactions. (PRNewsFoto/Wuxia the Fox )

Jonathan Belisle presenting Wuxia’s Book & App interactions. (PRNewsFoto/Wuxia the Fox )

The story in this augmented book revolves around Oremia, an 8-year-old girl who has vivid recurring dreams of great whales. Convinced she is actually a hologram, she meets Wuxia, a young fox with telepathic powers. Wuxia agrees to join Oremia to search for a legendary humpback whale named Nioma.

The combination of highly sophisticated electronics and lush illustrations has placed a significant price tag on this groundbreaking transmedia project. Belisle needs about $64,000 for book graphics, audiovisual content for the iPad app, development of the sound and symbol recognition algorithm, and copy editing. From now until May 2, 2014, he is running a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the project.

He plans to make the system available in French and English.

Depending on their donation levels, contributors can receive PDF versions of the book, soft and hardcover editions of the book in various sizes and wooden amulets.

“Our goal is to reinvent storytelling,” Belisle said. “It will inspire adults and children to connect with nature, developing new ways to share bedtime stories and explore their dreams.”


Kickstarter Campaign for Wuxia


Study Reveals People Believe Buying Art Is Intimidating and Expensive

UGalleryLogoA new study conducted by Toluna Research Group on behalf of the online art gallery UGallery reveals that nearly 70 percent of people have never purchased artwork for their home. Almost 50 percent of these people cite cost as the barrier.

Key findings from the study include:

  • It’s Too Exclusive. 67 percent have never purchased art, underscoring the perceived barriers to art access.
  • It’s Too Expensive. 48 percent cite cost as the primary obstacle to buying art.
  • It’s Too Intimidating. 20 percent found buying art from a gallery to be the most intimidating shopping experience of all, more so than shopping for real estate or a car.

When asked what would make them comfortable buying art, 36 percent said an “easy, money-back return policy,” 30 percent want to better understand the background of the artist, and 25 percent cite a “virtual way to look at the art on their walls.”


Millennials, the ‘touchscreen generation,’ were understandably more inclined to browse online, as they prefer online sites for all shopping experiences, as opposed to the traditional in-person sale. Per the data, 30 percent seek virtual methods for experiencing art before committing to a purchase. They were also four times more likely to buy art online.

These factors may explain the growth of online art galleries. According to to the Deloitte and ArtTactic “2013 Art and Finance Report,” online art is booming, with over 300 web-based art ventures having launched in recent years. According to the Hiscox 2013 Online Art Trade Report, “At least 71 percent of art collectors have now purchased artwork online.”

“Many people think art – particularly original art – is prohibitively expensive because they hear about the multi-million dollar auction results or get blinded by the number of zeros on the wall of their local galleries,” said Stephen Tanenbaum, President and co-founder of UGallery. “Online galleries have the ability to offer a wide range of artwork and prices, with original art that’s actually affordable.”

UGallery is a curated online art gallery that sells original, one-of-a-kind artworks from emerging and mid-career artists. Founders Stephen Tanenbaum, Alex Farkas, and Greg Rosborough came together in 2006 to create a revolutionary approach to online art sales that democratizes the entire art buying process. Clients can browse the collection by price, medium, style, size, color, or artist and give any piece a week-long test run in their home risk-free.



About UGallery

Artist FAQs



Survey Shows Majority of Creative Execs Work One or More Weekends a Month

While some employees are working for the weekend, many executives are working on the weekend, a new survey by The Creative Group suggests. Sixty-two percent of advertising and marketing executives interviewed said they bring work home at least one weekend per month, with 12 percent reporting they do it every weekend.

When asked how many hours they work each week, the average response was 47 hours. More than four in 10 (41 percent) executives are putting in 50-plus hour work weeks.

The national survey was developed by The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service for interactive, design, marketing, advertising and public relations professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm.

Advertising and marketing executives were asked, “How many weekends each month, on average, do you bring work home with you?” Their responses:

  • Once a month 23%
  • Twice a month 18%
  • Three times a month 9%
  • Every weekend 12%
  • Never 37%
  • Don’t know 1%

Executives also were asked, “How many hours, on average, do you work for your company each week?” Their responses are listed below. The average response was 47 hours.

  • 60 hours or more 18%
  • 50-59 hours 23%
  • 40-49 hours 48%
  • Less than 40 hours 6%
  • Don’t know 5%

“Working weekends is not exclusive to senior leaders, but it may be more common,” said Diane Domeyer, executive director of The Creative Group. “Creative executives manage teams that are spread out across the globe and working on numerous initiatives. They also must keep pace with a field that’s evolving rapidly. These responsibilities can require putting in longer hours.”

Domeyer cautioned that regularly working 10- or 12-hour days is a recipe for burnout. “Everyone needs time to disconnect from the job, unwind and recharge their creative batteries. Delegating tasks and keeping a check on employees’ workloads can help managers and their teams achieve better work-life balance.”

The Creative Group offers five tips to avoid working weekends:

  1. Prioritize. Take 10 minutes at the start of each day to assign a one-to-three “urgency rating” for each item on your to-do list. Tackle top-rated tasks as soon as possible and postpone or delegate items with less urgency.
  2. Empower employees. Performing certain tasks yourself may initially be quicker than explaining them to someone else. But time spent training staff now can reduce your workload later and improve the overall skill set of your team.
  3. Rethink meetings. Take a close look at any standing or upcoming meetings and ask yourself if there are enough agenda items to merit a gathering.
  4. Schedule personal time. Block time on your calendar to relax or pursue outside interests on weekends. Hobbies can feed your creativity, increase your happiness and provide extra motivation when you’re back in the office.
  5. Seek help. If overtime is constant, consider bringing in freelancers to help ease the workload for you and your team.


About the Survey

The national study was developed by The Creative Group and conducted by an independent research firm. It is based on 400 telephone interviews — 200 with marketing executives randomly selected from companies with 100 or more employees and 200 with advertising executives randomly selected from agencies with 20 or more employees.

About The Creative Group

The Creative Group (TCG) specializes in placing a range of highly skilled interactive, design, marketing, advertising and public relations professionals with a variety of firms on a project and full-time basis.


The Creative Group


New Book Suggests Best Practices for Fine Art Photographers

CrusadeBookCover1-350PHOTOGRAPHERS. In her new book, Crusade For Your Art: Best Practices For Fine Art  Photographers, Jennifer Schwartz encourages photographers to thoughtfully and purposefully develop plans that can help them get where they want to go in the world of fine-art photography.

“The art world has been turned on its head, and no one knows what to do about it,” observes Schwartz. Instead of pining for the good old days or bemoaning the fact that everyone with a DSLR (or iPhone) can call themselves photographers, Schwartz encourages photographers to take steps to build their own careers: “Photographers with talent, creativity, and ambition can start their own fires.”

Jennifer Schwartz is the creator/director of Crusade for Art, a non-­profit organization focused on cultivating demand for art, specifically fine art photography. For five years, she owned the Jennifer Schwartz Gallery in Atlanta where she worked to educate a new crop of collectors while promoting the careers of talented, emerging contemporary photographers.

She has served as a portfolio reviewer at photography events such as PhotoLucida in Portland, Filter Photo Festival in Chicago, Medium in San Diego, and Atlanta Celebrates Photography.  In the spring of 2013, she traveled to 10 cities throughout the U.S. in a 1977 Volkswagen bus on a “Crusade for Collecting Tour.” During this “revivalist” tour, she sought to build “grassroots” art appreciation by engaging people who live outside the urban centers of traditional art world.

In the book, Jennifer explains how to tighten your body of work, develop a brand, identify goals and a plan, and strategically launch a project. The book features insights from more than 25 top industry curators, gallerists, editors, and photographers, including:

  • Karen Irvine, curator at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago
  • Kat Kiernan, owner of The Kiernan Gallery and Editor of “Don’t Take Pictures” magazine
  • Melanie McWhorter, book division manager at photo-eye in Santa Fe
  • Amy Miller, executive director of Atlanta Celebrates Photography
  • Conor Risch, senior editor at PDN (Photo District News)
  • Ariel Shanberg, executive director of The Center for Photography at Woodstock
  • Lauren Steel, managing editor for reportage, Getty Images

The book is available in printed form (140 pages, softcover) or as an e-book. It can purchased from the Crusade for Art website, Amazon, or Apple’s  iBooks Store. All profits from book sales will go to the Crusade for Art organization.

Apply for a $10,000 Crusade Engagement Grant by April 1, 2014

To motivate photographers to think about their work, their target audiences, and how to best engage them, the Crusade for Art organization is offering a $10,000 Crusade Engagement Grant to the photographer who proposes the most creative and original ideas to create and foster demand for fine-art photography.

The organization seeks well-developed projects that will

  • create an aesthetic experience (one that actively involves the viewer’s senses, emotion, and intellect)
  • provide opportunities for interacting with the photographer and/or the images
  • lower the perceived barriers to participation with art
  • clearly identify the target audiences (e.g. not “the general public”)

Crusade for Art isn’t looking for proposals that seek funds to create a body of work, mount an exhibition, produce a book, or participate in a workshop.

According to the entry guidelines, Crusade for Art is looking for “projects that focus on creating demand for photography and provide a concrete plan to create one-to-one connections between the photographer, viewer, and the audience.”

The grant program organizers believe that there is an elaborate and well-funded support system available on the ‘supply’ side the art industry, but not enough effort or support on the ‘demand’ side: “We are looking to break new ground here” and believe that artists themselves are best positioned to develop innovative ways to connect audiences to their work.”

Members of the selection committee include: Whitney Johnson, director of photography at The New Yorker; Karen Irvine, curator and associate director at the Museum of Contemporary Photography; and Rupert Jenkins, executive director of the Colorado Photographic Arts Center.

Initial applications are due April 1. Finalists will be announced May 15.


Kasia Kay Art Projects Introduces Fine Art Wallpapers

Here’s an intriguing example of the fusion of the art world and interior design. Contemporary art dealer Kasia Kay has introduced Fine Art Wallpapers, a custom wallpaper division of the Kasia Kay Art Projects gallery in Chicago.

"Still Couture" by Sandra Bermudez for Fine Art Wallpapers, a division of Kasia Kay Art Projects,

“Still Couture” by Sandra Bermudez for Fine Art Wallpapers, a division of Kasia Kay Art Projects,

Fine Art Wallpapers is an exclusive, curated collection of contemporary wallpapers designed by established international artists. Rich with dynamic forms, these wallpapers combine contemporary fine art with high-end design.

“The curation and ownership of these wallpapers extends beyond an individual’s design aesthetic and speaks to their role as an art collector,” explains Kasia Kay. “Unlike any other custom wallpaper series, Fine Art Wallpaper acts as the perfect link between the two worlds of contemporary art and interior design.”

Fine Art Wallpaper meets all standard building-code requirements. It can be ordered in standard-size rolls or in custom sizes and colors.

About Kasia Kay 

Kasia Kay has a passion for both art and interior design. She opened the Kay Art Projects Gallery in Chicago;s vibrant West Loop district in January, 2006 and has exhibited to international clientele through various art fairs and site-specific exhibition projects. The gallery’s line-up is concept driven and exploratory, striving to maintain a tenuous balance between abstract ideas and expertly crafted physical works. Most of the gallery’s artists are multidisciplinary, working in combinations of painting, drawing, video, sculpture, photography, and installation.

Room 35 by Erika Harrsch

“Room 35″ by Erika Harrsch for Fine Art Wallpapers, a division of Kasia Kay Art Projects,

She believes the new collection of Fine Art Wallpapers will be perfect for hotels, homes, and unique properties that express their owners’ passions for great design, art, culture, or entertaining.


Fine Art Wallpapers

Kasia Kay Art Projects Gallery


Can Custom-Designed Wallpapers Hit It Big?

Daylight Is New Platform for Discovering, Viewing, and Sharing Contemporary Art

Publishing entrepreneurs Taj Forer and Michael Itkoff, founders of the art photography publishing brand Daylight Books, have launched a subcompact digital publishing platform, Daylight.

DaylightApp_Brodie-EditionTogether with serial tech entrepreneurs Lee Buck and Peter Bourne, the founders of Daylight aim to bridge the gap between the world of fine art and a rapidly growing mainstream audience of art enthusiasts. Their goal for the platform is to make it easy to discover, be inspired by, and share the most compelling contemporary art of our time.

The founders describe Daylight as “the intersection between subcompact digital publishing, the timeless tradition of art as human storytelling, and a new generation of digitally enabled consumers.” They Daylight users to experience a truly immersive platform for art exploration and discovery. 

Regular editions feature high quality contemporary artwork accompanied by interviews or short essays. Daylight’s minimalist user-interface design and full-screen images allow users to pause in an elegant digital environment that can be compared to that of the world’s top museums and gallery spaces.

Daylight’s first series of curated editions highlight many of the rising stars of art and photography including 2013 Guggenheim Fellow and preeminent American photographer, Alec Soth.

Soth’s exclusive edition (Orlando) appears alongside editions from Cristina de Middel (The Afronauts), Jess Dugan (Every Breath We Drew), Roger Ballen (Lines, Markings and Drawings), Jacqueline Hassink (Arab Domains) and the “Polaroid Kidd” himself, Mike Brodie (A Period of Juvenile Prosperity).

“Daylight is bringing fresh, powerful content with high relevance to a whole new audience. The art has context and meaning, and the presentation in the app and online are beautiful. They’ve got true art credibility and a social community approach that make for an enormous growth combination” said Rob Solomon, Venture Partner at Accel Partners and former President & COO at Groupon.

“We believe the timeless tradition of art as storytelling is vital to the human experience,” said Taj Forer. “For years, my co-founder Michael Itkoff and I have sought to deepen Daylight Books readers’ connection to the world through innovative presentation of curated art and photography. However, print media’s limitations are mounting while digital audiences are growing. That said, most digital content is consumed like potato chips. With Daylight, we are providing digital audiences with the inspiring, compelling art content that they are hungry for. We strive to give audiences reason to take pause with the art, artists and moreover, join the conversation.”



About Daylight