Posts Tagged ‘agency’

Digital Silo-ism needs to end

March 18, 2013 1 comment


Decades ago when I started in advertising, in India, TV was a new medium.

The agency I worked in then had a TV department.

It comprised of a couple of pot smoking creative looking types. Long hair, eccentric, came and went when they felt like etc.

Their job was to look at the creative brief, take the print campaign and create a film out of it. Then we had to go sell it to client and then off these guys would go to make the film.

Really, I kid you not.

The problems with that approach are obvious.

But the good thing was that it was all one company, one P&L. Just that one set of people had skills the others did not.

As TV became more mainstream, the department vanished and made its way to a production team that produced the film, the creative department came up with.

I mention this because in recent times one sees the same cycle being repeated with Digital.

But it is worse in many cases because they run different divisions or P&Ls or whatever the management term for that is.

Yet again they are staffed by people who act and behave like they are special. They often get pulled in last after the ‘main’ campaign is created and either a great opportunity to leverage digital is lost or some sub standard work is created or, worse, they are off creating something different because ‘come on adapting a mass media idea is so lame’.

Because they are run as separate divisions the ability to integrate becomes that much harder.

In my opinion the days of Digital as a separate function are numbered, if not over yet.

Digital is mass media. Everyone needs to know how that medium works and how consumers interact with it.

The challenges of communication remain the same.

Just as no one turns on the TV to watch ads, no one logs on to Facebook to ‘like’ a page.

The brand still needs to communicate creatively, engagingly to get the consumer to act the way desired.

Creating independent divisions is a very expensive, sub optimal way for an agency to work.

If I look back at the TV era the breakthrough came from creative. Once creative understood how TV worked the integration barrier was overcome.

In digital too the breakthrough will come from the creative function.

Digital is a lot more complex. So many options, so much detail and so many metrics.

But fundamentally it is about customer engagement. The role of the digital experts will be about using the creative idea and ensuring that its digital interpretation meets the ability of the medium.

The P&L driven organisation will miss the wood for the trees. The brand driven ones will grab it and run.

One of the most oft quoted successes in digital marketing is Old Spice. And that came from a ‘traditional’ agency.

I know quite a few digital business leaders who want to hold on to their P&Ls and be devoted to their turf protection.

I know quite a few marketing leaders who are fed up with this silo that everyone says is fundamental to business today.

For digital to really grow and become mainstream the silo needs to go.

Which of the majors will bring the wrecking ball to the party?Image

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Dentist and advertising agencies

October 20, 2009 1 comment

The other day I went to my dentist for a routine check up.

First using his little devices he peered into my mouth and recommend cleaning the back side of the teeth.

After that he then used a ‘dental’ camera to take pictures of the teeth to spot cavities.

And finally a set of x-rays to look at dental structure.

At each stage he explained what he was doing, why and recommended a course of action.

To nearly all of which I agreed.

On my way back, I was thinking about the process and wondered what it would take to get a similar relationship between agencies and clients.

After all advertising is a science.  And it should be reasonable to expect that agency recommendations are similarly explained and bought by clients.

I imagine, however, as agencies often position their services as an art, in the form of creative campaigns it swiftly moves into the area of subjectivity.

If agencies found a way to make the process more scientific they may find client interactions much easier. I expect that’s what clients would prefer too. While it increased everyone’s productivity.

Thinking further on this I believe one of the first things agencies should agree on is metrics to measure brands and campaigns. Competing between each other results in creation of different metrics thereby making the whole thing subjective.

Imagine if the top agency groups with their research partners came together and were able to agree on a set of common metrics to evaluate campaigns and brand strength?

Just like no matter which dentist one went too, the prognosis is pretty much the same. Clean, cavities, reconstruction.

To enable this of course we should first be able to agree on the customer journey/funnel.

Again we started decades ago with AIDA. However as agencies have grown and become more competitive they have created their own versions of the same customer buying process.

How many of these journeys are so dramatically different? Often times it is a matter of semantics.

Would it be too much to conceive a day when agencies can agree on a buying process. Yes there will be variations between some key categories, as there should be. But can the building blocks be the same?

With a standardised process and metric for each stage of the process agreed on, then the role of agencies become entirely focused on moving the prospect (or customer) to the next stage of the process against clearly defined metrics.

The conversations are less about the logo and the lady in blue and more about specific activities to meet specific objectives.

It in some ways also addresses the pay per performance issue that seems to have seized client agency relationships.

This is high level construct of my early thoughts of a way to evolve the agency business and over the next few posts will try and add more meat to this.


Agencies want better briefs

A survey among 250 senior executives among top agencies in the US revealed what most complain about universally. We need better briefs.

Some highlights here:

  • Agency executives reported that at least 30% of their staffs’ time is ineffective or wasted due to poor communication from their clients.
  • Client briefs were ranked poorest when it came to providing competitive information and describing how a client’s offering ranked in the competitive landscape.
  • 75% of respondents reported that client briefs go through an average of up to five significant revisions after a project has begun
  • Agency heads also said that ideally fewer than three client decision makers should provide an agency with direction during the course of a project, compared with a current average of more than five.

Full article here

And all this rework takes up significant man hours. Which in turn costs money.

Not new news, but unless agencies can find a way to help their clients the issue of ‘we need better briefs’ will continue to be a global moan.

I wonder how much the current compensation system has to do with this. When clients pay by the hour for work defined by a scope there is far more clock watching that goes on than the old commission system.

I think an outcome based compensation system than an output one or even a process based one is far more beneficial for all concerned.

Getting to a common definition of success is probably the starting point of  any such discussion. And that requires many mind sets to change and redrafting the relationship.

What success looks like to a client is often very different to that of the agency.

Many minds far brighter than mine have been/are engaged in trying to solve this vexing challenge. There is a lot of good thinking taking place in silos of clients or agencies or even geographies.

Maybe there needs to be a proper global conference, maybe at Cannes, that discusses Creativity and Compensation.

Agency Compensation

There’s been, always been, a lot of discussion around agency compensation systems.

Many clients have been pushing agencies to look at a value based compensation system.

This article in Advertising Age talks about this from the POV of the client procurement department.

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