As one of the curators of the and corporate blog databases, I see plenty of corporate blogs.

I probably study 20 or more corporate blogs closely each week; maybe another 30 a little less closely.

Recently an advertising CEO from New York asked me the following:

“What are the 5 things that irk you the most when you read ad agency blogs?”

Tough question, but I promised him I would take a stab at it.

Here is my summary of the many social media audits we have done this year on agency blogs for our clients.

What large ad agencies can teach us bloggers

[su_box title=”1. Navel gazing content is out: Your content must focus on your client, NOT you.” box_color=”#86bac5″ title_color=”#ffffff” radius=”5″ width=”px 700″ ]
Nobody wants to listen if all you do is talk about yourself (e.g., products).

Address my concerns or my problems and point out a possible solution (e.g., Checklist: 5 ways to increase sales).

How to do it right:

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 2682″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”520px” class=”alignleft” height=”387px” Title=”Burson-Marsteller – We preach dialogue, but reserve the right to do different on our own corporate blog.” alt=”Burson-Marsteller – We preach dialogue, but reserve the right to do different on our own corporate blog.”]

Burson-Marsteller does many things right, including having content that adds value.

[su_box title=”2. Don’t waste my time: Content that adds value is the only content that matters.” box_color=”#86bac5″ title_color=”#ffffff” radius=”5″ width=”px 520″ ]

After reading your blog entry, how does your reader feel?

Was it worth spending time on?

Did they learn something new?

As this blog below shows, it takes effort to present content that is relevant for your clients.

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 2668″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”520px” class=”alignleft” height=”269px” Title=”Bernet Blog – established it rarely if ever talks about itself – no navel gazing here ” alt=”Bernet Blog – established it rarely if ever talks about itself – no navel gazing here”]

It is hard but the Bernet blog illustrates that ad agencies can do it very well (see above).

Burson-Marsteller also violates point 3 below, by turning off reader comments. That puzzles me. Anybody know why Burson-Marsteller does not want to hear from its blog readers?

[su_box title=”3. Engage and dialogue with me: Do not add insult to injury.” box_color=”#86bac5″ title_color=”#ffffff” radius=”5″ width=”520px” ]What we tell our clients and charge for dearly is one thing. What we do on our website is a different story.

If you preach engagement, why would you turn off commenting?

Do you not want to hear from your readers, clients or future customers?

How Landor – part of WPP – does it

Landor talks about engaging, debating and so forth on its blog (see above screenshot).

But all it does is boradcasting, so Web 1.0 – where does it listen, share, discuss and learn? Talk is cheap…

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 2680″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”520px” class=”alignleft” height=”446px” Title=”Landor – Do you want dialogue when you turn off commenting on your blog?” alt=”Landor – Do you want dialogue when you turn off commenting on your blog?”]

We all know that fostering dialogue takes time, of course.

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 2670″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”520px” class=”alignleft” height=”305px” Title=”DrKPI Agency tries to maintain dialogue with its readers, but it’s not easy.” alt=”DrKPI Agency tries to maintain dialogue with its readers, but it’s not easy.”]

Naturally, the above illustrates that not every blog entry gets as much dialogue and social sharing as the next.

Large agencies that span the globe have another challenge to master.

Harnessing economies of scale is great, but boring the local audience with “soft” news does not communicate professionalism.

[su_box title=”4. Do not bore me: Being global is nice, but act locally please.” box_color=”#86bac5″ title_color=”#ffffff” radius=”5″ width=”520px” ]

Some believe all you need is a local website.

Once it is up, just report on the last conference you attended, such as the Cannes Lions Festival (a yearly event for self-agrandizing of the ad industry).

Also maybe mention the last charity you helped and show a foto of the last group of interns you took on.

All news that puts you in the right light.

Nevertheless, does such inward looking help your client solve their own challenges?

It seems it is not easy to write content relevant to your local audience when you are part of a large worldwide ad-agency. A case in point is Ogilvy South Africa.

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 2687″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”520px” class=”alignleft” height=”514px” Title=”Ogilvy South Africa – which client cares about a Cannes Lions blog entry – does that add value?” alt=”Ogilvy South Africa – which client cares about a Cannes Lions blog entry – does that add value?”]

Blog entries like those about the Cannes Lions conference cannot be of great interest to a South African client, can they?

Maybe it justifies the author’s junk trip to France from Johannesburg. Anything else?

[su_box title=”5. Read my lips, dialogue is in, broadcasting is out: Houston, we have a problem.” box_color=”#86bac5″ title_color=”#ffffff” radius=”5″ width=”520px” ]

Ad agencies advise their clients about which Web 2.0 strategies could result in success.

But why do so many ad agency blogs (i.e. more than 86.9 percent) fail to get their readers to leave comments and join the dialogue?

How can you advise your client and charge for it when you yourself fail to do it right?


Not so easy, as the Deep Edition Digital PR’s blog illustrates. Nevertheless, if you want to be considered an expert and get paid for your advice, should you not do better than those paying you because you supposedly know?

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 2669″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”520px” class=”alignleft” height=”395px” Title=”Deep Edition Digital PR Sweden” alt=”Deep Edition Digital PR Sweden”]

Discuss these issues with us!

Have you come across these issues as well?

Share your viewpoint. I would love to start a dialogue with you.

How do you decide whether or not your ad agency is competent in social media? What criteria do you use?

Bottom line

Next time you look for an ad agency that can help you with social media, check out these three things before giving them the job.

[su_box title=”3 things that tell you if your ad agency is up to social media.” box_color=”#86bac5″ title_color=”#ffffff” radius=”5″ width=”px 520″ ]
1. Navel gazing content is out: Your ad agency’s blog content must focus on your needs, not theirs, in order to provide you with value.

2. Engage and dialogue: Does your agency preach or act accordingly by allowing and encouraging readers to leave comments?

3. Houston, does my ad agency foster dialogue? If their blog gets reader comments, do they write thoughtful replies, or…?


6 replies
  1. Sara Casiz
    Sara Casiz says:

    Super Urs

    Very interesting.

    This explains or confirms my suspicion with our web agency also from the WPP group.They have a blog but there is neither dialog nor much engagement to be found.

    Worst I find that the content is of little if any interest to me as a client. Instead it is all about how great they are. That is so much Web 1.0, is it not?

    I looked at your benchmark for web agencies, there is basically zero dialog for most of their blogs. So why should we listen to them when they tell us about the digital platforms?
    We need to have a talk…

    • Urs E. Gattiker
      Urs E. Gattiker says:

      Dear Sara

      Thanks so much for stopping by Sara.

      I understand your frustration with your agency’s work when it comes to fostering engagement and dialog on their blog.

      It is difficult to hire a baseball or football coach that has little if any practical experience. Moreover, hiring one that has a proven track record usually helps reducing the risk of failure in the first season.

      I must tell you, however, that fostering dialog is a labor intensive process. You can mechanise much of your social media work such as posting on Twitter or your corporate Facebook page. Nevertheless, replying thoughtfully and quickly to your fans or followers posts is another matter.

      With blogs it is even worse, it takes at least 10 minutes to answer a blog comment.
      You have to read it first, of course. Then draft a reply that relates to it, adds further beef to it and relates it all again to your blog entry.

      Having an intern do blog entries and replying to comments (if there ever are any) is just not what potential and current clients want. They want to hear from the partner, the CEO and those that can represent the ad agency.
      Interns cannot speak for the company. So how can this be an authentic voice of the corporation?

      There is much more to do. I wish you Happy Holidays and a great start for 2016. All the best
      We measure what matters!

    • Urs E. Gattiker
      Urs E. Gattiker says:


      Here is how the Ad Agencies measure up when it is to having a conversation on their blogs (view table below). That is likely the one you saw yourself I imagine (see your comment above).

      Here you can view it again with a link:

      Conversation – Ad Agency Blogs Worldwide – click to view above chart and get OPTION for more details

      Hope this is useful to other readers as well.

      PS. Why so many ad agencies forget to make sure that the full blog entry has a data like 2015-11-22 remains a mystery to me. It does not help Google to provide better search result (e.g., data tells Google how recent the entry is).

      The result is that the entry comes on page 3 or thereabouts. Why degrade your content with such an oversight?

  2. Ria
    Ria says:

    Nice post about AD agency.

    What I find interesting is that people tend to believe it is the advertising effort / campaign that made the difference.

    But usually, with campaigns it is impossible to account for the many factors (or control for). In turn, there is generally a lot open to guessing what was the effect that made it happen.

    If ad-agencies would be taken by their word, or how bad their blogs or webpages are, they should go out of business.

    Appreciate you.

    • Urs E. Gattiker
      Urs E. Gattiker says:

      Dear K. Ragini

      Thanks so much for stopping by to comment. Yes I have to agree. I am somewhat surprised that ad agencies talk about being innovative, sharing, and fostering dialogue.

      But we should ask the question Quo Vadis… all that. The webpages often tout their product or services. If they do something …. they tell the world about it. But it often looks sterile, boring and fails to provide the target audience with added value.

      Those paying the advertisers wish to get content that provides added value, problem-solutions or insights one can use. Why else would anybody want to read such boring material?

      But there are laudable exceptions as you can find in our benchmark on, just enter your favorite agency’s blog and you can see.

      Happy Holidays

  3. Sandeep
    Sandeep says:

    Dear Patrizia

    Thanks for sharing this comprehensive post about filmmaking. As film maker specialising in advertising ourselves, I was happy to see that you experience similar things as we do.

    The post is informative and points out to clients, for instance, following things step-by-step while being well prepared reduces the chance for friction and budget overruns.

Comments are closed.