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Six essentials for a future-ready agency

BestMediaInfo.com compiles a list of must-do things for agencies if they want to become ready for the digital age. It’s high time to stop pondering and get going

Look around. There is talk around technology companies buying media and creative giants. Algorithms are making creatives. Freelancers are available just a click away. Profits are under pressure and brands are increasingly looking for solutions rather than creative ideas.

Keeping in mind the hyper-competitive and confusing environment of the advertising industry, it is important to become future-ready and embrace disruption. Gone are the days of 30-second ad films that worked everywhere.

Conversation is happening nowadays around ‘digital disruption’. The fuddy-duddies have also accepted that it is either digital way or no way. The ones who are saying that their job is to create ad films and place it on various mediums are likely to be under pressure.

BestMediaInfo.com compiles a checklist for its readers to find if they are future ready.

Content

Content is becoming central to communication strategies in order to fully engage with consumers. In a conversation with BestMediaInfo.com once, Saurabh Varma, CEO Publicis Communications pointed out, “One must notice where the brands’ money is going these days and an increased spending in the content space.” To survive, the agencies must move on from ‘30-second thrillers’ to branded story-telling of all sorts. Aware of the fact, where the brands are moving, sometime ago, Publicis launched Prodigious in India, which is a specialist production company that produces and delivers video, digital and print-led branded content. Independent agencies such as Creativeland Asia also launched their content marketing division to support the content aspect of the agencies.

Collaboration

Collaborative marketing, in a nutshell, is the process of sharing resources to increase leads, brand and influence.

There are three types of collaboration:

First is collaboration within the agency. One needs better collaboration among the team and has to blur the line between digital, print, outdoor and TV. All must know all. The expertise of all the domains must be brought together and work in collaboration for better results. Prasoon Joshi, CEO and CCO of McCann Worldgroup India, Chairman of McCann Asia Pacific, once told BestMediaInfo in an interview that, “Digital agencies are a misnomer and you do not require them. You require communication partners.” Therefore, at McCann, everybody is digitally equipped and they don’t have a separate digital agency.

Second is the media, creative and digital agencies’ collaboration. All the three need to be more interactive with each other. Dentsu Aegis Network is one good example of collaboration. If Taproot or Happy McGarrybowen requires any data or digital-related help, then they can easily reach out Isobar, Webchutney, Carat and Vizeum. It’s tedious for clients to explain their brand’s requirements to every agency separately and working in close coordination helps them.

Third is the collaboration between the agency and client. The new-age agencies want to collaborate with the clients from the inception stage. TBWA/India’s Govind Pandey once said he would like to work with those brands if only he can make a difference in the brand image and leave a mark. For that, he works in close coordination with the clients even in the strategy stages for a better understanding of what the brand stands for. He does not believe in making just commercials and advertising for the brand, but emphasises the need for the agency’s active participation in brand building.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning

Artificial intelligence is the epitome of the use of technology in advertising. AI might be the single most important innovation shaping the future of the advertising industry. AI helps advertisers to get away with mundane yet tedious jobs like buying the right media, targeting the right users, personalising the creative, optimising bid rates, and much more. Computers can definitely intake more data and act faster than humans. Algorithms are only going to be a bigger part of media buying, but can machine learning ever completely replace the creative process? Creative people getting threatened by AI? Would AI eat up jobs? These are few questions that can only be answered with time. Excess of everything is bad and the best way here is to embrace AI and only use it secondary and not as the primary source of brand building.

These are the times where McCann Japan has an (AI) creative director on board. Not lagging behind, the Indian agencies have realised the importance of AI and have started developing mobile apps that can create campaigns for brands. Isn’t it amazing!

Virtual reality

Although the virtual reality is a term more specific to brands than agencies, it is important for agencies to stay abreast with technology like virtual reality. India has a long way to go with this regard but brands are ready to embrace this new age technology. And, of course, if an idea utilising virtual reality is put forth by an agency, brave brands will definitely take a chance in the world of real-unreal. Many big companies are investing a lot of money to experiment VR technology in the marketing front. In fact, there are a few brands that are ready to help their agency partners develop and enhance their virtual reality skills.

Performance and programmatic marketing

Performance marketing is gaining traction in India as marketers are more and more being questioned about various ROIs (return on investment) of all the expenses they are incurring in brand building. Publicis Media claims to be the biggest player in the performance marketing business today with two dedicated agencies working on it – Performics.Resultrix and Performics.Convonix.

Dentsu Aegis Network is largest search and performance giant in India by being the holding company of iProspect and Sokrati. With this, DAN is 2.5-3 times larger than the next player in this area, probably Publicis.

Programmatic media buying has changed digital marketing for good. The marketers across digital utilise this technology available to optimise media campaign ROIs beyond the last click. It helps brands and agencies target consumers at the right time, right place with the right message.

Revenue pressure

Since the financial breakdown of marketing giants drove the advertising industry into recession in 2009, advertising’s big four – WPP, Publicis, Omnicom and Interpublic Group – are struggling. Agencies are grappling with budget cuts from the client's end. The global economic scenario as well as local pressures after demonetisation and GST have put pressure on the agencies world-wide. Networks like Publicis and WPP are consolidating their agencies and creating one P/L. Moreover, the biggest of the biggest agencies are slowly denouncing awards: the epitome of creative judgment and effectiveness.

WPP last month reported weaker-than-expected revenue growth in its latest quarter and reduced its forecast for 2017. Publicis suffered the steepest fall, posting a 1.2 per cent decline in organic revenues around the world in the first three months of 2017.

In an interview with BestMediaInfo.com, Piyush Pandey of Ogilvy & Mather said, “Better negotiation with clients will improve profit margins.”

So, those behind, please catch up!

Info@BestMediaInfo.com

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