Clients lead the charge
The low cost of digital advertising is pulling them into the net
CLIENTS AND NOT ad agencies are now the drivers of the shift to digital media – and it’s for one very good reason. “It’s cheaper,” says McCann Worldgroup regional president Brett Gosper. “Recession has accelerated the digital revolution. Clients are under pressure to cut costs and when they see how cheap it is they’re willing to experiment with it.
“But there’s another important factor: it’s precisely measurable in a way traditional media can’t match. Technology and measured performance are the two extra pillars agencies didn’t have to offer 10 years ago.”
Gosper, a former Australian rugby international player who heads McCann’s EuropeMiddle East-Africa region, was speaking to
Finweek in Johannesburg during a short visit. A new set of challenges requires a new style of ad agency, Gosper says. Instead of brand planning, think communications planning. Introduce technology fundis into your creative teams. And in addition to creativity, try innovation. And measurability leads to a performance-based culture that requires analytical skills never needed before.
“Agencies could end up with split personalities if the process is not managed well,” says Gosper. “They try to behave as though the two are exactly the same. Some networks go for separate digital agencies. We think you must embed it into the traditional structure and allow it to influence that flow as much as possible.”
McCann even goes so far as to appoint a “technology catalyst” in each region who talks to creatives about what technology has made possible.
Gosper warns the digital uptake will be very rapid in SA, driven mainly by social media. “But you can still catch up. You can get on board. Now there are two types of talent in an agency: traditional and digital creatives. They speak different languages. Traditional media isn’t a concept of the FaceBook generation – people under 25.
“Though you still need story-telling abilities, different disciplines and habits come with digital media. If you’re steeped in newspapers it’s hard to do the kind of storytelling you need. In the old days agencies were on about creativity. Now they have to be more innovative.”
The difference is subtle, but significant. Innovation, says Gosper, is “doing things that haven’t been done before. Creativity is more about doing things we’ve always done but differently. But you have still got to entertain. Brands that don’t entertain won’t succeed.”