Ad Agencies Stink At Their Jobs--Here Is What They Must Do.

Ad agencies are supposed to connect their client’s brands to their client’s consumers and they are doing a pretty bad job at it today. The 20 and 30-somethings ad folks stick all their client brands into social networks THEY and their friends like to hang out in and the middle aged ad people stuff their clients brands into their kids’ social networks. Yes, I know, this is an exaggeration—but not much of one.

The fact is that the entire ad agency model has to be remade and ad agency people need to really learn about social media—and print for that matter. Blindly moving everyone into the most popular social networking sites may be safe today but it hurts clients whose brands are not connecting with the corporation’s true customers.

There is a very serious discussion underway on restructuring ad agencies to get it right in the digital age. Over at the new blog Experience Matters from Critical Mass, David Armano has a series of suggestions. They are a start. But a terrific start.

Armano argues that traditional ad agencies produce a product—a page, a 30-second spot, a thing that they then sell—but digital is a lifestyle. David suggests that a set of “digabilities” are needed to be successful in a digital ad world. Here they are in brief. Go to Experience Matters for the full discussion.

1. Digability Is digital in your DNA? Is it a core part of your marketing thinking—or merely another “channel”?

2. Experienceability Customers are people and people demand great experiences. In the digital age, talk is cheap—experiences rule.

3. Accessibility No longer content to devour the messages you’ve broadcast to them over the past 40 years, consumers have become participants. Today’s power consumer wants to have a say in what your brand is.

4. Flexibility Individuals, brands and business must adapt, evolve and demonstrate a nimble flexibility. Flexibility rules in the form of never-ending beta releases, experimentation and innovation.

5. Portability Widgets, gadgets and mobile. They all have one thing in common—they bring content and connectivity to you, on your terms where and when you want it. The user experience is mobile.

6. Talkability In the digital age customers get to talk back. Customers demand to have a say, and want to hear back from the brands they empower. If you want to get customers talking about you—talk with them and help facilitate how they can better talk to each other.

7. Listenability There are more ways than ever to hear the customer out, listen to what they are saying—and discover the patterns. In the digital age listening becomes more important than talking.

8. Usability In the digital age we witness an abundance of complexity and a scarcity of simplicity. Usability becomes a key differentiator as consumers cry out for the conversion of complex to simple.

9. Shareability Brands who figure out how to crack the code of how much to share will establish the “exchange rates” within their industries. Open source turns into open for business as new opportunities emerge.

10. Sustainability In an ever-changing digital landscape, new products services and experiences will continue to emerge. But few will be sustainable. Sustainability translates into customers knowing that you will be around tomorrow translates to commitment and ultimately loyalty.

11. Desirability When useful and usable isn’t enough—desirable speaks to our emotions.

This is a great first start, all from David. What would you add or subtract to his list?