Do Advertising Agencies Get The Internet?

Traditional advertising agencies like traditional newspapers may have difficulty getting their mind around the true nature of the Internet.  It’s not just another medium of communication on which you can place media advertising.  There’s a rather good ROB interview with Claude Lessard, chairman and CEO of what is now known simply as Cossette, that illustrates this.

Clearly as for many other companies, 2009 will be a tough year for Cossette:

Annus horribilis? An overstatement. Still, when you find yourself no longer agency of record for BCE Inc. (your largest client), and you see what’s happening in the auto sector (another big client), and you observe an economic collapse for which you can find no apt comparison, it’s a good idea to find a new way to look at the world. Or a new way to get the world to look at you.


Cossette is a company with a lot of talent but it is interesting to note Mr. Lessard’s answer to one question:

Are you able to discern any trends being exhibited by those companies that are retrenching?

Yes … they will look at other means of reaching their consumers. … As you know, our industry has gone through a huge change in the last five, six years. … Clearly, we’ll see some clients now, because of the context, looking more seriously at their alternatives in terms of maximizing their investment. … For example, putting more money in the digital world because it’s a world where you can measure results. … A recession is a great time for leaders to become ever stronger. Yes, they have to cut, but they have to stay very, very aggressive. The good companies, and we have many in our portfolio, are leaders in their categories. I suspect that they will try to stay very aggressive, maybe doing more with less money. That’s where we come in. …

The present recession does require that companies learn to do more with less.  Surprisingly Mr. Lessard does not mention that the ROI (Return on Investment) will be very much higher with Internet Marketing than with traditional media advertising.  For him, his only reason mentioned is that ‘you can measure results’. 

Some have opined that the reason why Internet Marketing tends to get underplayed is that the traditional media companies have a great deal of investment tied up in the older channels of communication.  That may be one reason for this Internet myopia.  However it may be that traditional advertising agencies just don’t get the Internet.