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How Isobar Is Redefining The Digital Agency/Insights Consultancy Model

Isobar is one of the largest digital design agencies in the world and a part of the Dentsu Aegis network. In this interview, we explore what an integrated digital agency and advanced research organization looks like, what they are doing, and a view to the future.


Isobar is a global full service digital marketing agency, driven by the purpose to deliver borderless ideas enabled by technology, to transform businesses and brands. They have over 5,500 digital pioneers in over 85 locations, across more than 45 markets worldwide. Isobar has won over 250 awards in 2016, including 19 Agency of the Year titles and Asia-Pacific Digital Network of the Year for the fifth time in the past six years. They are also part of the  Dentsu Aegis Network, one of the largest media, digital and creative communication organizations in the world. In short, they are an impressive organization at all levels.

And they are now very directly in the research space.

In 2016 they rolled in Copernicus and Forbes Consulting, two of the Dentsu-owned research companies to form Isobar Marketing Intelligence. The new entity, Isobar Marketing Intelligence, defines their mission as:

….to help brands fully understand their consumers in ways never before possible. We do this by bringing together emotional, behavioral and cognitive sciences which, when combined with the creative talents of our Agency, generate profound insights and inspire unique strategies and solutions.

Full disclosure: I have been an advisor to Forbes Consulting for many years helping with developing their product strategy and have been along for their journey in becoming part of Isobar. It’s been amazing to have a front row seat watching the evolution from a  research consultancy to an integrated and product driven agency model. This model is one that I expect to see play out more and more in the future as the lines between marketing and insights functions come down and more holistic approach becomes the norm.

It’s also interesting to see an agency like Isobar developing automation IP such as the recent launch of MindSight Direct, the “DIY” version of the MindSight Unified Model of Human Motivation developed by Dr. David Forbes to identify the specific emotions driving consumer behavior – explaining why consumers act as they do. This automated version delivers everything MindSight does, but at a fraction of the cost and time.  Since Isobar has a massive development team to help their clients bring new products or experiences to life, this approach of scaling their insights IP via automation is a major way that they can differentiate themselves in the market.



Because I believe Isobar Marketing Intelligence is an example of where the industry is headed in multiple ways I invited Co-CEO Jeff Maling to join me for an interview for our readers.  In this interview we explore what an integrated digital agency and advanced research organization looks like, what they are doing, and a view to the future of how they drive greater client value, impact, and innovation.

This is no fluff piece; it’s a deep and wide ranging conversation with one of the companies that is redefining a category, and everyone tasked with business strategy in their organization should pay close attention to the vision Jeff lays out.


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