The aim of this thesis is to further knowledge of how digital marketing agencies identify
opportunities for innovation.
Being innovative within digital marketing is an issue faced by many of the small digital
marketing agencies. Recent research that has been carried out on SME innovation has focused
on networking and integration. It could be said that this research is largely not applicable to
the SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) industry when competitive advantage is such a major
factor. Furthermore, the research suggests that many small agencies would take an ad-hoc
approach to innovation. Other research has also shown that innovative companies can grow
faster and become more profitable. Therefore, agencies that can become more advanced in
their innovation capabilities could see competitive advantages come from this.
This thesis investigates the emerging processes that are currently being used within digital
marketing agencies to identify opportunities for innovation. It specifically looks at the
identification stage of innovation rather than the entire innovation process. Breaking the
innovation process down into various sub-processes enables a far greater depth of insight to
The research approach was qualitative with four in depth interviews of experts within the field
being completed. Then based on these findings a further 17 interviews were completed in five
agencies located within the Brighton and Hove area. All interviews carried out were semi
The contribution to knowledge is based around four key areas. Firstly, a definition of
innovation is developed specific to the digital marketing agencies. Secondly, a model of
innovation identification is constructed. Thirdly, key insights around time pressures within the
industry are put forward. Finally, the concept of open innovation is considered.
Within this project it was found that those companies more adept within their innovation
capability were able to provide an appropriate definition of innovation. These companies also
had a process for identifying innovation opportunities in place. In addition, time to complete
innovation will always be an issue within this industry. However, there are some limited long
term ways in which this can be mitigated through management support and company
structure. Finally, within the concept of open innovation, there was found to be a disparity within the industry which thinks of itself as open when the reality points towards it being more
closed than it believes.
This thesis produces rich insights into the ways in which creativity is developed into innovation
and how companies within the digital marketing industry may be able to absorb ideas from
creative employees into the business in order to improve their innovative capabilities.
|Date of Award||Nov 2017|
The identification of innovation opportunities by search engine optimisation agencies: small firm cases in a UK cluster
Hendry, M. J. (Author). Nov 2017
Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis