Now Live: The SoDA Report, 2017
by Lakai Newman / June 6, 2017
Global Digital Outlook Study from Forrester and SoDA Finds Digital Differentiation Disappearing and a Widening Gap Between Agency Leaders and Brand Marketers on Innovation
Newly released study shows growth in digital spending, marketers’ plans for in-sourcing digital capabilities and significant investment on the horizon for machine-based technologies such as programmatic advertising, AI, chatbots and conversational interfaces.
More than 75% of agency leaders and brand marketers agree that the term “digital” is losing its relevance and will disappear within 5 years as a meaningful way to differentiate agencies and the marketing tactics related to technology. There is, however, a widening gap in how agencies and their clients view innovation. The 2017/18 Global Digital Outlook Study from Forrester and SoDA found that agencies identify innovation along the principles of design thinking (“solving existing problems in unique and novel ways”) while marketers most value the idea of being first (“doing something that’s never been done before” or “embracing new technology before our competitors do”).
These are just two of the findings from the 2017/18 Global Digital Outlook Study from Forrester and SoDA – a comprehensive online survey of 216 client-side marketing executives and agency leaders from around the world. Now in its fifth year, The Global Digital Outlook is a leading industry survey and one of a very few studies to deeply explore digital marketing spending trends, the adoption of emerging technology and views on the future of digital from the perspectives of both agency leaders and brand marketers.
“This year’s study reveals a high-degree of optimism and confidence in the future of the digital marketing industry,” says Michael Lebowitz, Founder and CEO of Big Spaceship and Guest Editor of The SoDA Report and 2017/18 Global Digital Outlook Study. “For good reason, too; as the report shows, digital budgets are growing, as are the shares of those budgets that are going to digital agencies. Remember when we were clamoring for one percent of spend? Those days are long gone.”
“Our study with SoDA reinforces many of the trends we’re tracking here at Forrester,” says Brigitte Majewski, Vice President and Research Director for B2C Marketers at Forrester. “Digital as a siloed marketing channel played an important role in establishing nascent capabilities for both agencies and brand marketers. But it’s time to move on. We’re entering a post-digital world where the challenge is to build a customer-obsessed organization with creative resources focused on solving problems across the entire customer journey (digital and beyond). CMOs and agencies that fail to pick up and lead this brand experience transformation may finds themselves on the losing side of history.”
Additional findings from the 2017/18 Global Digital Outlook Study include:
Spending. 43% of marketers are increasingly their investment in digital marketing and, more so, digital is taking the lion’s share of the budget with nearly 50% of marketers now spending 50% or more of their entire marketing budget on digital.
Emerging Technology. More than 40% of marketers plan to “significantly increase” their investments in programmatic advertising, AI/machine learning, chatbots/conversational interfaces and AR/VR in the next 12-18 months. 69% of agency leaders also agree that the growing prevalence of AI technologies and conversational interfaces will “significantly impact” the way their agencies will design for customer interactions.
Optimism. Agency leaders are bullish and 86% project that 2017 will outpace 2016 in terms of profitable growth. That said, concerns around the commoditization of digital work and the impact of nearshoring/offshoring both reached 5-year highs in our tracking study. 58% of agency leaders also identified the increased in-sourcing of digital capabilities by client-side marketers as an area to watch.
In-Sourcing. Client-side marketing leaders continue to build their in-house digital capabilities with nearly 60% stating that they now manage social marketing execution, customer insights/analytics and aspects of web and mobile experiences entirely in-house.
Innovation. 89% of client-side marketers rate their organization as either “somewhat or very innovative” when it comes to digital marketing initiatives (up 24 points from 2016). 73% also believe that their current organizational structure fosters the ability to innovate while agency leaders hold a nearly polar opposite… 48% say that their clients’ organizations hinder their ability to innovate.
Inflection, the theme for this year’s study and bi-annual trend report, The SoDA Report, signals a period of accelerated change and the increasing importance for marketers and agency leaders to decipher nuanced signals amid a decidedly complex market conversation. But change is something digitally-native agencies have thrived on. As Michael Lebowitz puts it, “While we can say the field is at an inflection point, we’re not facing upheaval. Just the opposite; it’s business as usual. It’s not a single point of inflection, it’s the age of inflection.”
The 2017/18 Global Digital Outlook Study has been released in conjunction with The SoDA Report, a bi-annual industry publication that brings together research, thought leadership and case studies from some of the world’s leading digital agencies and technology innovators. This year’s report includes contributions from renowned agency and technology brands such as Huge, Big Spaceship, Firstborn, Mirum, SapientRazorfish, MediaMonks, Doberman, Deepend, Wondersauce, Instrument, Google, Adobe, Forrester and more.
The SoDA Report along with the 2017/18 Global Digital Outlook Study can be found online at www.thesodareport.com.
About The Global Digital Outlook Study
Now in its fifth year, The Global Digital Outlook Study from SoDA and Forrester collects data on spending trends, adoption of emerging technology, perspectives on the future of digital and evolving priorities for both agency leaders and brand marketers. The Global Digital Outlook Study is part of The SoDA Report – a bi-annual industry trend publication that brings together research, thought leadership and case studies from some of the world’s leading digital agencies and technology innovators. The SoDA Report can be found online at www.thesodareport.com
SoDA is the leading global network for digital agency leaders, creative innovators and technology disruptors. With more than 100 agencies spanning 6 continents (sorry, nothing in Antarctica… yet), our members help the world’s most progressive brands imagine and create the future of digital experiences. More about SoDA and our agency members at www.sodaspeaks.com
Forrester (Nasdaq: FORR) is one of the most influential research and advisory firms in the world. We work with business and technology leaders to develop customer-obsessed strategies that drive growth. Forrester’s unique insights are grounded in annual surveys of more than 675,000 consumers and business leaders worldwide, rigorous and objective methodologies, and the shared wisdom of our most innovative clients. Through proprietary research, data, custom consulting, exclusive executive peer groups, and events, the Forrester experience is about a singular and powerful purpose: to challenge the thinking of our clients to help them lead change in their organizations.