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OgilvyOne, Isobar, Razorfish lead digital agencies in China: Forrester

As digital agencies become strategic partners for marketers in China, there are those that are making a significant difference by pushing boundaries in creativity, strategy and execution. To engage online consumers, marketers seek digital marketing support from agencies. According to Forrester forecasts, by the end of 2014, China would have 670 million internet users and the online penetration rate would reach 48 per cent.

Digital agencies in China aid in managing the digital marketing budget of brands that is shifting to digital from traditional media. Online advertising in China has almost doubled over the past two years — from USD 9.2 billion in 2012 to USD 18.1 billion in 2014 and will double again by 2017 to reach USD 38.1 billion. Digital agencies help the marketers to expand of the spectrum of digital services they offer.

According to Forrester, in order to qualify as a full service digital agency it must offer at least seven of the nine services among digital strategy, web development, technology architecture and support, creative (advertising) services, email/CRM, analytics, media planning and buying, search marketing, and emerging media.

It is difficult to accommodate the ever changing and dynamic landscape of digital marketing in China. So, Forrester has only considered selected agencies that have been operating in mainland China for three years or more. Also, the digital agency should excel in both client retention and acquisition. The selected agencies have a client retention rate above 70 per cent and for which 20 per cent of their clients were newly acquired in 2013. The evaluation looks at eight agencies in space: BlueDigital, Isobar, OgilvyOne, Possible, Proximity, Razorfish, VML IM2.0, and Wunderman.

OgilvyOne, Isobar, and Razorfish secured the top positions as they have a proprietary strategy framework that helps clients establish a connection between understanding consumers and overcoming their own business and transformation challenges. They have also invested in product and technology innovations.

The research added that OgilvyOne, Isobar and Razorfish are leaders in meeting overall marketing leaders’ requirements based on current offering, strategy and market presence. Specifically, OgilvyOne offers higher level of integrated services through Neo@Ogilvy and Social@Ogilvy, while Isobar excels in mobile marketing, and Razorfish differentiates with ecommerce platform offerings.

They were followed by VML IM2.0, Wunderman, and BlueDigital. They offer competitive options as they cover the major areas in digital marketing services but are not the leaders in the space. Proximity and Possible follow the pack as they are still growing their operation base in China but they do have strategic approach with respect to focus on ecommerce, proximity on its data lab and creative intelligence

Digital agencies are helping to accelerate their clients’ transformation into digital businesses by providing business consulting services and perspectives on ideas, business challenges, and emerging technologies in China, the research said.