Creative Agency vs. Digital Agency: Which Is Right for You?

Let’s take a look at both to figure out the best content marketing agency for your brand.

If a social post drops on Facebook but there’s nobody around to like it, does it make an impact?

This isn’t a philosophical mystery for the ages. The answer is no.

A piece of creative without a plan for where it will go, who has to see it, how success will be measured and what can be done to optimize it is not worth creating. No matter how brilliant the idea or flawless the execution, without a raison d'être, there’s no reason to make it. And this is the exact consideration you should have in mind when deciding whether you need a creative agency or a digital agency.

First, let’s clarify what we mean by each term. A creative agency delivers what you think of when you picture a traditional agency manned by the likes of Darrin Stephens and Peggy Olson. Strategy, design, advertising and sometimes technology services are offered, and delivered, with a focus on the creative idea.

A digital agency, on the other hand, is more focused on the technical and functional aspects of a campaign. The focus is not as heavily centered on the creative idea, but instead on search engine optimization, paid media, demand and lead generation, online advertising, measurement, web design, e-commerce and a whole bunch of techy goodness that hasn’t been invented yet.

How to Choose an Agency for Advertising and Marketing

The dichotomy between creative and digital agencies is a bit of a fallacy, of course, because so much of what we make lives in the digital world, and even agencies making Super Bowl spots are also churning out digital banners to match. But knowing where an agency puts its focus helps you understand if it aligns with your own.

Which brings me to my point. Don’t ask yourself: “Do I need a creative agency or a digital agency?” Instead, ask: “What agency does both?” Because a digital agency should never sacrifice quality of creative, and a creative agency should never pretend the effectiveness of an idea lies in the strength of just the creative. Apply the Goldilocks standard and cede neither when seeking an agency that’s just right.

This is how we operate at Manifest. We creatives love our data folks, working with them to understand the insights that inform the strategy and that help make the creative even stronger. We like knowing if what we thought would work actually does—and if it doesn’t.

We take pride in delivering ideas that we know will work, and we feel confident that our spark of inspiration is going to be vigorously fanned by what our performance team does best. And our performance team likes seeing its work inspire ideas that are beautifully crafted by our team of creatives, a group of women and men who are as kind as they are brilliant, and who have worked on some of the world’s best-known brands.

If all this sounds funny coming from a creative, it shouldn’t. Creatives get a bum rap, with clients and even colleagues secretly thinking that we are interested only in the act of creating.

But if that were true, I’d be halfway through my fourth novel or navigating a rabbit’s warren of oil paintings in a Parisian attic with the smell of turpentine in the air. In our business—and yes, it’s a business—there’s no divorcing the creative from its impact. And we should be proud of that.

The novel can always wait until COB.

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