Editorial: The world of digital calls for a new breed of talent

The parallels between the rise of today's digital agencies and that of the media independents two decades earlier are becoming ever more apparent.

Just as there were industry sceptics in the 80s rightly claiming that media and creative could not work isolated from each other, so there are others today who argue that digital should not be a discipline apart, but should be integral to a mainstream agency's offering.

While the best of the media independents have flourished, the changes to the media landscape have proved the need for much greater cohesion between the media and creative disciplines in the cause of cut-through communication.

Today, a similar shakedown seems likely within digital as the major players become an accepted part of the advertising establishment, while the others throw in their lot with traditional agencies intent on broadening their offerings.

Now, with pay disparities between traditional and digital agencies narrowing, and online opening the door to exciting new creative opportunities, the time may be right for more traditional agency types to cross the divide.

Certainly, this week's feature about jobs in digital (page 22) suggests the trickle is becoming a flow, if not yet a flood.

One reason why no mass migration is taking place is that traditional agencies are getting their digital acts together, meaning staff no longer have to go elsewhere for online experience. Another may be that the enthusiasm for digital among big-spending clients may be a tad exaggerated.

This isn't to diminish online's importance. The fact that the Wunderman network's share of digital business has risen from 12 per cent to 50 per cent in two years speaks volumes.

However, creative progress in the digital medium seems not to be leaping ahead at the same pace. Daniel Morel, Wunderman's global chairman, makes an intriguing comparison between digital and the news and information-based medium that was TV in its early days.

Digital specialists have to attract the high-calibre staff to reinforce credibility with clients, but also find the creatives truly capable of colonising a largely unexplored territory.