News,  Vendor Selection

Who is a Digital Marketing Service Provider ?

I’m having fun with my latest vendor selection matrix where I asked marketing practitioners about the service providers they work with on their digital marketing automation projects. The first challenge when designing the survey was: what do we call this beast? 

Marketing Agency … Marketing Consultant …. Marketing Systems Integrator (SI)  …Media Agency …. Full Service Agency ….. Digital Agency …. Digital Experience Agency …..

Then I remembered a project I did way back in 2011 (at Forrester) for a company I’d known for 15 years already, initially as a boring old HP Value-Ad-Reseller. They’d noted they were doing more and more marketing software projects; decided to review their overall strategy/positioning with my help; and subsequently relaunched successfully as a “global digital agency focused on business transformation”. 

And I used that work (with permission) to publish a research report called “The Emergence of the Digital Marketing Service Provider (DMSP)”. My Forrester colleagues didn’t like the term but I had lots of calls and engagement afterwards with both marketing agencies, who wanted to add more IT skills to their offering, and traditional SIs wanting to expand their creative offerings. 

So, that is the moniker I used in my survey. I showed this definition to 1500 marketing practitioners around the world and asked them to name and rate those DMSPs they have experience with. We got a high volume of data back because 33% of them stated they work with over 4 or more DMSPs.  

A screenshot of a cell phone

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The second phase of the project is to contact the “vendors” named and organise a briefing. This is proving very difficult – these companies have little/no experience of working with industry analysts like me. Most have basically no understanding of what I do, even after an initial call where we discussed the project. This is perhaps no surprise because they do not really market themselves (just look at their websites! Full of multi-media ego trips instead of any engagement marketing). This is confirmed by a report published by my other business partner, B2B Marketing, where a survey of marketing agencies returned this priority list to the question “Where does your new business commonly come from?”:

  1. Direct referral                                                  
  2. Referral from an external individual (not client)  
  3. Request for Proposal process                            
  4. Pitch                                                                
  5. Paid/unpaid media exposure                               
  6. Advertising                                                      
  7. Specialist referral agency                                  

But I will continue anyway, because the data I have collected is so compelling and I have never had so many ratings from a survey. Here is the list of the DMSPs named (alphabetically as usual at this stage).


Watch out for the final report to come out in August. As I like to say, our research discovers a “vendor landscape” – those vendors who are the most highly regarded by users for, in this case, services around digital marketing projects. Due to geographical, segmentation and functional differences, it is not always a list of direct competitors. In fact, as I said above, here most respondents work with several DMSPs to cover their needs.

If you would like to discuss this topic already, feel free to contact me.  

Always keeping you informed! Peter. , ,

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