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Seven Tricks Digital Agencies Use to Cheat You

By Rakesh Raman

Rakesh Raman

Rakesh Raman

When it comes to cheating, the so-called digital brand communication agencies can beat even the most expert cheats. And their number in the market is increasing faster than the rainy-season mushrooms.

So, if you’re planning to hire a digital agency to promote your brand, you’ve to be cautious – and cautious enough to separate the rice from the chaff. While you should be prepared to take them head-on, here are the seven tricks that digital ad agencies use to hoodwink you.

[ While large companies may have plenty of bucks to burn and experiment with digital agencies, this article is particularly relevant for small and medium businesses (SMBs). ]

Here are the seven tricks that digital agencies use:

1.  Website Development or Digital Communications?

Today, most itsy-bitsy web development outfits work under the garb of digital agencies. When they say they’ll promote your brand using digital technologies, they will simply create a website for your brand. While a website development is a mundane work for which they can’t ask for more money, the cheating agencies will masquerade as digital agencies to extort more money from you. Be careful.

2. What’s Content?

It’s content – and only content – that matters. Content is the backbone of any brand communications work. But most (almost all) digital agencies are clueless about content nuances, though they’d claim that they understand content. It is not about language alone; content is a combination of many elements like connotation of each word, placement of each word in a sentence, visual selection, user interface, design, color scheme, and so on for your brand messages. The subject of content is as difficult as rocket science. Digital agencies are totally illiterate in this field.

3. Digital Communications or Media Buying?

Although they project themselves as digital agencies, their main job is to buy ad space for you on other media properties. You don’t need a media buying agency. As digital agencies still work in the traditional media mode, they will extract money from you to create and display your ads online. Media buying is a clerical work. Don’t pay even a single penny for such work.

4. Why Pay for Ad Clicks?

While buying media space for you, digital agencies will ask you to spend money on displaying your ads on third-party websites like news sites. Don’t pay for any PPC (pay-per-click) ads. You might have to shell out something like $5 to $50 for every click even when a user has clicked your ad by mistake. Moreover, click frauds are rampant where your rivals will keep clicking your ads using fraudulent ways. And digital agencies also have secret arrangements with unscrupulous outfits that employ a number of cheap workers to click on such ads. And digital agencies will show it as their media-buying performance while you’ll get robbed in the process.

5. How to Measure Web Traffic?

If by chance you fall prey to digital agencies’ deceptive designs and decide to display your ads, it’ll not be possible for you to correctly measure the web traffic on account of your online advertising because there is no reliable web analytics service available. Although digital agencies recommend services like Alexa, Google Analytics and a host of others, none of them is accurate. Either digital agencies don’t understand web analytics algorithms or they deliberately deceive you by asking you to rely on all these crude web analytics services.

6. Is SEO Reliable?

Digital agencies will also claim that they will do search engine optimization (SEO) for content around your brand. But it’s a blatant lie. On longtail or general queries from web users, even God will find it difficult to put your brand in the first one, two, or three pages of a search engine. Moreover, search engine technology itself is awfully horrible and raw. So, SEO is a big fraud happening in the web market. Plus, digital agencies will take more money from you to buy search engine-based ads. Never pay for anything that is around search engines.

7. What’s Social Media Management?

Now, after the proliferation of social media, digital agencies also claim that they’ll promote your brands on social media platforms like Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, and so on. But social media is a tricky ballgame. It’s not about the number of Likes that you get on Facebook or Linkedin or the number of followers on Twitter. Social media is about messaging and engagement, and most digital agencies are clueless about both these important social media factors. You need not trust them.

So, beware of these tricks used by the so-called digital agencies. While there’s no empirical method to estimate the result of your digital media- or social media-based brand promotion campaigns, only qualitative analysis can help you understand the utility of digital media.

It’d be better if you avoid hiring any digital agency for your brand communications. But if you still want to hire them, keep the seven points stated above in front of you to evaluate them so you don’t get cheated by digital agencies.

By Rakesh Raman, the managing editor of RMN Digital.

This article is a part of our initiative: Tech-Wise Knowledge Center for SMBs.

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