A digital marketing agency focuses on Internet, social media, email, and apps to engage prospective customers. Once called "online marketing," the term "digital" more accurately defines the software and data analytics expertise required to not only create marketing communications across computer and mobile platforms, but also to collect data to understand consumer behaviors.
Consequently, digital marketing is frequently separated from traditional marketing largely because it requires technical skills such as coding and app development. While sometimes a subsidiary of a larger, full-service organization, digital agencies are frequently independent shops specializing in Web- and mobile-based advertising and related software-based marketing projects.
Digital Ad Spending Up
The growth of digital agencies corresponds with the uptick in digital spending spurred in large part by the growing adoption of smartphones, and by the growing importance of Millennial consumers who rely exclusively on digital sources for information.
As eMarketer reports: '[G]lobal digital ad spending increased this year by 16.7 percent for a total of $140.15 billion dollars, 'surpassing 25 percent of all media ad spending for the first time.'
Like any advertising shop, digital agencies tend to cluster in leading cities where there is a built-in base of both potential clients and creative labor pools. Because digital agencies are particularly reliant on young technical professionals who literally have grown up with the development of social media, they also tend to locate in "hip" communities.
Where Is the Capital of Creative?
Portland is a current leading hotbed of digital marketing and interactive design. Why? According to blogger Mia McMahon, "It's fueled by a contagious cocktail of talent, young energy, professionals who work their toned-bike-commuter butts off, quirky creativity, and maybe some really great sustainably-sourced coffee. It's the work-hard-play-hard mentality. It's the marriage of tried-and-true traditional marketing with the millennialist emphasis on relationship, experience, and aesthetic/design."
Indeed, Portland's Pop Art agency has a page on its website dedicated to extolling its home base as the "new capital of creative." Of course, New York City has long been the headquarters of leading agencies, and the digerati have taken a big bite of the Big Apple. Razorfish, for example, has 21 patents concerning digital marketing.
Founder Jeff Dachis once predicted, "Everything that can be digital, will be." Razorfish is now a part of the Publicis Group, with worldwide offices that include key cities in the U.S. including, yes, Portland. In New York, Brooklyn is giving Manhattan a run for its money, at least in terms of where young creative types congregate.
An example? Online content producer Vice Marketing, which has been in Brooklyn since 1999, recently qualified for a $20 million tax break from the state in exchange for creating 500 new jobs in the area. Ultra-hip Brooklyn collective, Etsy, qualifies for a similar deal. They're hiring creative professionals by the hundreds in Brooklyn. Brooklyn is sort of the Portland of the east coast.
Although, Brooklynites may argue that Portland is the Brooklyn of the west coast. Then there are the agencies that play both sides of the coin. Digital agency Huge, for example, has a major office in Brooklyn and it also has an office in Portland. Vice Marketing is opening an office in Los Angeles.
The Bottom Line
The fact is, though, you don't need to live in Portland – or New York --to work with a digital marketing agency. The number of employees telecommuting grew by 80% from 2005 to 2012. It seems you may just need an Internet connection.