Byravee Iyer
Sep 29, 2015

Digital diversity: Big tech firms join the creativity party

Digital platforms are set on going beyond direct marketing to grab a slice of traditional advertising dollars.

Google, Facebook are ramping up creative teams
Google, Facebook are ramping up creative teams

This article follows Ad agencies no longer kings of creative hill

In secluded Northeast India, Nestlé teamed up with Facebook to reach consumers in both rural and urban areas. 

To maximise reach in a region with uneven internet access, the social network worked with the brand and its agencies, Publicis Delhi and Media Alliance, to develop assets based on bandwidth. Users with weaker bandwidth received images in their feed, while users with better connectivity received video.

The campaign, entitled ‘Everyday’s theatre in a cup’, helped the FMCG company gain a 14-point lift in ad recall; a 7-point lift in message association; and a 5-point life in purchase intent. 

It’s no surprise, then, that brands like Mondelez, Mars, Coca-Cola and Reckitt Benckiser are shifting their focus to Facebook, Google and Twitter as primary channels for brand campaigns, particularly in emerging markets such as India, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines. 

In response, Facebook and Google are ramping up their internal creative agencies to design campaigns for brands in an effort to snag a bigger piece of the traditional advertising revenue. Twitter operates a less formal brand management team that advises advertisers on strategy and creates content for them. 

Google says the aim of its in-house agency, known as The Zoo, is to become a creative think-tank for brands and agencies. “We collaborate with the world’s most ambitious partners to use Google’s products, platforms and technologies in new and unusual ways,” says John Merrifield, the company’s chief creative officer for Asia-Pacific. 

He stresses that the team’s intention isn’t to encroach on agency territory but to work with them and bring fresh perspective to the table. 

Where Merrifield insists The Zoo is idea-centric and platform agnostic, Facebook’s Creative Shop is focused on video and mobile. “People everywhere have embraced visual communication formats at a staggering rate and this behaviour has changed how businesses can tell great stories,” explains Fergus O’Hare, head of Creative Shop Asia-Pacific at Facebook. 

Indeed, in APAC people are spending more time creating and consuming videos, including ads. In Australia and South Korea the number of video posts created per person increased by 52 per cent and 36 per cent, respectively, in the last one year. Plus, more than 50 per cent of people using Facebook in Australia, South Korea and Singapore, watch a video every day. 

However, the region is particularly leading when it comes to mobile. People now live their lives on mobile, completely changing how they discover, experience, share and connect. O’Hare cites statistics showing people spend an average of 46 minutes on Facebook, Messenger and Instagram, every day. Half of the world’s online population is on Facebook, with almost 90 per cent of those people coming back on mobile. 

“Mobile is not a thing — it is the thing,” O’Hare says. “I believe it’s fair to say that if you are marketer and are determining how to shift a central focus of your marketing to mobile, it is a good idea.”

In March, Creative Shop unveiled the Creative Accelerator, a programme designed to help brands become more effective with their advertising in high-growth markets by developing campaigns tailored to people in each country and device, especially feature phones.

For their part, agencies have embraced both Creative Shop and The Zoo, driven to a degree by both companies investing in agency partnerships to scale education and better insights.

Facebook’s lure includes a Global Creative Council of chief creative officers who collaborate on client opportunities; Blueprint, which launched earlier this year seeks to train agencies, partners and marketers on how to use the platform to drive better results; and Facebook IQ to help agencies cull insights and data. Additionally, Creative Shop has also invested in Facebook Awards to acknowledge the best campaigns. 

According to Margery Lynn, general manager, Dentsu Mobius, working with these creative teams has been productive, as they aren’t dragged down by the sales preoccupation of wider organisations. Lynn notes that Google in particular has proved to be an effective collaborator when it comes to pushing “what is possible on their specific platforms”.

“The agencies that get it, get it. They’re already doing brilliant work, they love to try new things and they’re embracing every collaboration with the same enthusiasm we do,” says Google’s Merrifield.

One output of this was The Zoo’s collaboration with Colenso BBDO for Mars Pedigree. Both teams worked together to launch Pedigree Found, a mobile app that lets owners instantly alert people in the vicinity that their dog has gone missing. “The idea was created by our team in Sydney and brought to life brilliantly by Colenso BBDO. It launched this past April in Auckland was picked up local news and met with immediate success,” says Merrifield. Mars is rolling it out globally.

Saatchi & Saatchi’s regional planning director Steve Walls says agencies are in fact ahead of clients in collaborating with technology companies. “We’ve been collaborating extensively for a while now, looking at how the tools work, figuring out how to marry them with all of the other elements in the communications mix and we’re getting good at it.”

Our View: Technology is making creative solutions stronger and that has helped increase ROI. 


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