Dis­rupt busi­ness, cre­ate value

ArabAd - - COVER STORY - BY: WIL­SON ISSA, MD OF VI­VAKI LE­VANT

In a chain re­ac­tion of sorts, tech in­no­va­tion – and its equally rapid overnight ob­so­les­cence – has ush­ered our industry into a new era of fast-paced and un­for­giv­ing change that has pushed all global ma­jor play­ers into un­char­tered ter­ri­to­ries.

On the sur­face, the Le­banese mar­ket seems to have caught on to this fun­da­men­tal trans­for­ma­tion sooner than ex­pected. Craftily de­signed and worded cre­ative and me­dia pre­sen­ta­tions and com­mu­ni­ca­tion plans are re­plete with buzz­words. From pro­gram­matic, tech partnerships, data, con­tent dis­tri­bu­tion, to per­for­mance and video neu­tral plan­ning, there is a long list of tech­ni­cal jar­gon that prom­ises clients an all-en­com­pass­ing of­fer­ing - but very right­fully and un­der­stand­ably so. Our industry’s dy­namic, ever-evolv­ing and frag­mented land­scape is par­al­leled with in­creas­ing client need for in­te­gra­tion and con­sol­i­da­tion of agency of­fer­ings. In their bid to sur­vive and broaden their and their clients’ hori­zons, ma­jor hold­ings groups have beefed up their in­vest­ments and ca­pa­bil­i­ties across ver­ti­cals and hor­i­zon­tals, at the cen­ter of which lay tech­nol­ogy, partnerships and con­tin­u­ous prod­uct in­no­va­tion.

In a far out­cry from older days, such global in­vest­ments that were once slowly and grad­u­ally rolled out across mar­kets are be­ing de­ployed with al­most im­me­di­ate ef­fect. De­spite the lo­cal mar­ket’s lim­ited

We must re­main adamant on pre­sent­ing clients with solid teams that can de­liver across all touch­points and against a back­drop of lo­cal mar­ket in­tri­ca­cies.

size and scale, ma­jor me­dia hold­ing groups are of­fer­ing their Le­banon af­fil­i­ates and of­fices near in­stant ac­cess to global deals and partnerships, state-of-the-art tech­nol­ogy and pro­pri­etary so­lu­tions that de­liver un­matched cam­paign track­ing and op­ti­mi­sa­tion ca­pa­bil­i­ties; arse­nal that me­dia agen­cies in Le­banon are util­is­ing to the fullest po­ten­tial in their prom­ise to do things ‘dif­fer­ently’.

The risk in­curred with do­ing things dif­fer­ently, how­ever, is the ten­dency to side­line our abil­ity to do more for our tal­ent and clients alike. Agen­cies across the board are im­port­ing tools and ex­per­tise from abroad and in­ject­ing them into their day-to-day busi­ness with clients; of­ten, how­ever, with min­i­mal con­sid­er­a­tion to the lo­cal mar­ket in­tri­ca­cies, needs, tal­ents and, most im­por­tantly, fu­ture growth tra­jec­tory.

It is a re­al­i­sa­tion that SMG Le­vant had come to many years ago. While un­prece­dented ac­cess to our global net­work’s resources and tools had placed us in a prime po­si­tion, our fo­cal point – not to men­tion com­pet­i­tive edge – re­mained on train­ing and en­abling our lo­cal tal­ents to de­liver next now to our clients.

We made sure that both our global and lo­cal partnerships and tools worked hand in hand to drive our Le­vant tal­ents and, con­se­quently, client work with pace and pur­pose. Whether in Le­banon or in Iraq, our tal­ents are armed with fear­less lead­er­ship, re­silience and imag­i­na­tion that are, more of­ten than rarely, chal­lenged but equally in­spired by tur­bu­lent Le­vant mar­kets. In par­al­lel, they are backed by an arse­nal of global, ro­bust pro­pri­etary plat­forms to stay ahead of the curve and help in ac­cel­er­at­ing growth for our clients. This is an ideal but tough bal­anc­ing act, even more so with bot­tom line and in­ef­fi­ciency pres­sures heav­ily weigh­ing down on clients. We must re­main adamant on pre­sent­ing clients with solid teams that can de­liver across all touch­points and against a back­drop of lo­cal mar­ket in­tri­ca­cies.

The era of spe­cial­ists work­ing in si­los is long gone. Client leads and plan­ners have mor­phed into com­mu­ni­ca­tion spe­cial­ists across dif­fer­ent ver­ti­cals, rang­ing from stan­dard out­door bill­boards, the avalanche of video dis­tri­bu­tion for­mats and all the way to so­cial, search, and per­for­mance me­dia. Adding to this, our trad­ing desks have evolved; they have more pro­gram­matic ca­pac­ity than ever be­fore and, most im­por­tantly, they are closer to the plan­ning leads, en­abling ef­fec­tive cross-de­vice tar­get­ing while mar­ry­ing off­line and on­line ac­tiv­i­ties to op­ti­mise en­gage­ment across all ver­ti­cals. This trans­lates into am­ple op­por­tu­ni­ties to Le­vant mar­kets, where au­to­ma­tion and tech tools are grow­ing with pace, yet still com­fort­ably co-ex­ist with tra­di­tional me­dia. It is a dis­tinc­tion that me­dia agen­cies with an arse­nal of global tools must make when they de­ploy them into the lo­cal mar­ket.

Tech­nol­ogy has rad­i­cally trans­formed the me­dia world. How­ever, the sci­ence be­hind what we do re­mains un­changed. Peo­ple have been and will al­ways be our main as­set and driver. If agen­cies fail to un­der­stand or ex­plore how global tools and tech­nolo­gies can con­verge with lo­cal tal­ents at the ser­vice of clients op­er­at­ing in the lo­cal mar­ket, they can eas­ily re­duce their po­ten­tial to tech­ni­cal jar­gon in craftily worded pre­sen­ta­tions and catchy industry head­lines.

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