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Shifting client demand: how searches for digital agencies rose during UK lockdown

Image by Glenn Carstens Peters

There is no doubt that the advertising industry, like many others, has had its world transformed by the coronavirus.

With many brands uncertain as to where to invest in order to safeguard their futures, and many agencies unsure which services to amplify at this uncertain time, The Drum Recommends – a service which helps brands find agencies – is sharing the trends it has seen within the most popular service categories on its platform during 2020.

Since the government ordered lockdown in the UK in March, there have been significant shifts in the areas of demand. Prior to lockdown, the leading services among the hundreds of categories listed on The Drum Recommends were commonly for traditional marketing services such as brand advertising creative, brand strategy, and branding design.

But from 23 March onwards as the nation obeyed our instruction to stay at home, there was a noticeable upturn in searches across digital categories which saw them consistently appear in the leaderboards. In particular, there has been a consistent rise in demand for web development and design, digital strategy and SEO and seeing the most considerable surge is social advertising.

And while there were dips in searches for otherwise popular services such as brand advertising creative, B2C brand strategy, brand design and copywriting, demand for digital strategy peaked during the thick of lockdown.

“While it might not be surprising to hear that the demand for digital is up due to our lives being totally reliant on online services and products overnight, it has been interesting to notice specific services such as social advertising and digital strategy experiencing such high spikes, almost witnessing marketers respond as we all adjusted to a new way of life," says Cat Hartland, Head of The Drum Recommends.

"Brands have had to react with speed, many have had to quickly bring on new agency support and in a different process to how they usually would, so it’s important that The Drum Recommends can instantly inform brands about agencies who are highly rated and proven by their own clients and can help them respond effectively.”

In line with these trends, The Drum Recommends can today highlight the agencies that come most highly recommended by its members across the trending categories.

These agencies came the most highly recommended across the three areas that have seen the most searches since the start of lockdown: social advertising, web development and design, and SEO and PPC.

Social Advertising

Web development & design


Agency UK

SO Marketing


Gravity Global

Hydra Creative

Tug Agency

The Think Tank

CSI Media


The Media People

MMT Digital

Red Hot Penny

RH Advertising


iCrossing UK

Forever Beta

The Think Tank

Hit Search



TIPi Group

Harrison Carloss



Team Eleven


Accord Marketing


Konekt Group

Williams Commerce

The Drum will be covering more insight from The Drum Recommends research engine over the coming weeks and months. To find recommended agencies or rate your current agency, visit

In July, we will be downloading its thousands of client ratings for digital services to announce the leading digital agencies at The Drum Recommends Agency Awards 2020 in October. To ensure your agency is eligible, register here before 17 July.

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