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Yorkshire focus: Is there still such a thing as a Yorkshire digital scene or do all agencies offer digital services?

As part of The Drum’s series of UK regional reviews, we caught up with those working across Yorkshire’s creative marketing industries – Intermarketing Agency, Banana Kick, Enjoy Digital, We Are, Cherry Tiger, Boutique Media Communications and INK Digital Agency – to identify if there still is a Yorkshire digital scene or if all agencies offered digital services.

Is there still such a thing as a Yorkshire digital scene or do all agencies have some sort of digital offering?

Jamie Allan, managing partner, Intermarketing Agency

Digital shouldn’t be portrayed as a specialism. With the non-stop progression of technology and the proliferation of tablets and smartphones, the vast majority of consumers in the UK today have access to digital platforms 24 hours a day. The way in which people communicate in a personal and commercial way has changed. And with the boom of social media, free messaging, Skype calling and FaceTime, a significant proportion of that one-to-one contact is via digital platforms. Media owners predicted this change and are now at a stage where they can offer their content via a multiplex of touch points. It goes without saying that every agency should understand digital technology and how best to use it, because even if it has no effect on their business right now, it will.

Nick Goring, director, Banana Kick

I imagine it’s a bit of a lonely place providing solely digital services now. Most agencies deliver a digital offering in some shape or form, as they should. Digital is part of the communications mix, not a standalone discipline.

Kristal Ireland, strategy director, Enjoy Digital

The key to an effective Yorkshire digital scene if to remember how big and diverse Yorkshire is. We have distinct city scenes such as Hull Digital Live, SNzero and Think Visibility in Leeds and Game Republic in Sheffield, so most agencies are creating digital output as part of a much bigger, whole story of the Yorkshire digital scene. What we don’t have is a body that truly unites agencies, universities, tech providers and clients. As the digital industry is one of the region’s fastest growing employers, perhaps this is an initiative the new Yorkshire LEPs will grab hold of and invest in?

Andy Weir, MD, We Are

Yorkshire has some world-beating digital agencies and the digital scene is still very strong, but most agencies now offer digital through either in-house teams or strategic partnerships. We have invested heavily in this area at We Are and will continue to do so. As clients become more aware of the capabilities of digital we have found ourselves working on increasingly complex digital projects as part of integrated campaigns and also seeing a shift towards digital becoming the focus of them.

Mike Ashton, director, Cherry Tiger

If you don’t have sound digital capability at the heart of your agency offering by now then you’re rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic. Inevitably digital specialists have been acquiring some broader marketing skills so everybody is probably moving a little closer together.

Simon Bollon, director, Boutique Media Communications

There remains a strong digital scene and some strictly digital agencies are still seeing tremendous growth. However, no agency (of any guise) exists any longer without a digital offering. That makes it much harder for the pure digital agencies to compete and I wouldn’t be surprised to see consolidation and mergers between pure digital and broader marketing agencies over the next 12-24 months.

Tony Pye, head of digital development, INK Digital Agency

Mmmmm, there is still a scene, but it’s more fluid than having clear boundaries between on and offline; and that’s cool; that’s the way we believe it should be. There are still agencies out there who focus on offline; however in our experience they tend to partner with agencies like us. We often act as seamless digital partners or collaborators with other agencies who need that specialism.

This question was asked as part of a wider feature on Yorkshire in the 23 November issues of The Drum.

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