Marketing agencies will disappear in 10 years, study says

Aspiring marketers envision a new landscape, with independent social media and digital marketing agencies withering and with a greater focus on content marketing.

A new study predicts that social media and digital marketing agencies or service providers will disappear within 10 years, and reactions range from indifference to shock, and from cheering to jeering.

Overall, people deem the projection accurate.

The study, conducted by European business school Mediaschool Group, surveyed 2,000 marketing students throughout Europe in March and April. According to the study, 70 percent of respondents believe that in 10 years marketing will focus on content marketing and “PR thinking”—a focus on building brand recognition and image, and on inspiring customer trust. Further, 80 percent anticipate the demise of stand-alone social media services firms and digital marketing agencies.

Other notable findings of the study include:

  • 70 percent believe TV advertising will remain relevant in 10 years;
  • 70 percent believe advertising will shift focus to entertaining rather than selling in 10 years;
  • 70 percent indicate that “true digital natives” are found only in the generation 10 years behind them;
  • 77 percent think Facebook is the most important social media platform for communicating with millennials;
  • 60 percent view Twitter as an advertising platform;
  • A large segment of students believe silos and channels do not exist in marketing.

Our team unanimously agreed that stand-alone social media and digital marketing agencies probably will vanish within 10 years. We believe so strongly in integrated and multi-channel marketing that we tend to think stand-alone social media shops are inadequate today.

We named our company “…social media & more” for two reasons: (1) because we offer marketing services beyond social media, and (2) we believe social media marketing efforts are inadequate in isolation.

Regarding other study findings, we agree that TV advertising will continue to be relevant and effective, regardless of the receiving device. And it is clear that Twitter is rapidly becoming an advertising platform; just how cost-effective an ad platform remains to be seen.

Facebook appears to be the primary channel for those who wish to communicate with millennials. However, as today’s teens migrate from Facebook to Twitter (also widely reported of late), that could change. This migration might be a game-changer for Twitter advertising.

We agree that advertising will continue to be wrapped in entertaining packages. The “marketing as entertainment trend” has been with us for decades. It did not begin with the rise of social media, nor with the birth of digital marketing, and we do not think it will end in the near future.

To see this arc, one need only trace the progression from radio and TV “soap operas” to Super Bowl ads that are increasingly entertaining in their own right.

In time, there will be some filtering and natural selection among social networks, as we have seen with most new concepts-search engines, news aggregators, Web portals. We believe all that will lead to new ways of sharing information.

Will stand-alone social media services firms and digital marketing agencies exist 10 years from now? We think not.

We do not define marketing by the platform or the format. We believe marketers and companies of all sizes will learn that marketing is rarely successful when it relies on a single channel or platform. Then, social media silos will disappear and agencies will learn to use multi-channel, multi-media, multi-platform, multi-format marketing to connect with their target audiences.

Vickie Pittard is a partner at Little Black Dog Social Media & More. She has 17 years+ marketing experience and more than that in content production. The original version appeared on

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