Digital: Special Report

The UK's largest ad agencies have got into a bit of a spin about the feature on this page. Their digital departments are evidently not their favourite topic of conversation. This is because, for all their garbled attempts to claim otherwise, most are embarrassingly inept when it comes to digital ads.

Go to a digital awards show and you'll be lucky to spot anyone from advertising's old guard. This is partly because few of them produce award-winning digital work, if any at all. It is also because few feel comfortable cavorting with geeky digital types.

The industry doesn't seem to know how to face up to its digital insecurities. Some shops form loose affiliations with sibling agencies. Some fashion joint ventures with specialists. Only a handful have dedicated in-house teams. So it's hardly surprising that, according to a recent survey by the Haystack Group (Campaign, 15 September), only 4 per cent of clients feel their agencies are on top of what's going on in digital.

Not everyone is getting it wrong. Bartle Bogle Hegarty and Mother fare well in our school-report-style feature, while Ogilvy, a regular in Campaign's Turkey of the Week column for its TV ads, arguably has adland's best digital capability.

Media agencies do digital better. We score creative agencies, on average, an "adequate" 3.6 out of 7 for their digital prowess. Media agencies average 4.5, almost "good". No wonder more than a quarter of clients in the Haystack survey feel their media agencies are getting to grips with the discipline. "The message we are getting is that media agencies take a broader view and so have invested heavily on digital planning and strategy," Suki Thompson, the head of Haystack, says. "They 'get' where the audiences are going."

Topics