Alfonso Rodes Vila
Feb 13, 2015

Media agencies need partnerships in order to survive

Alfonso Rodés Vilà, CEO of Havas Media Group and deputy CEO of Havas, joined a panel yesterday at the Media360Summit. Here, he discusses his views on the changing role of the media agency in an ever more complex environment.

Rodés Vilà: Agency roles include those of technology partner and behavioural psychologist
Rodés Vilà: Agency roles include those of technology partner and behavioural psychologist

The role of the media agency has changed forever. No longer do we encourage brands to spend big in TV and then allocate some budget to digital in order to spark an interest. Now we adopt a more organic approach. We focus on what assets are owned by the brand, what partnerships are available to help the brand and what media can be earned as a result of a wide range of activity.

The role of the media agency is to form collaborations between data and content to produce data-driven content—the best vehicle for pushing organic reach. The reason for this shift is simple: we live in a more organic world, where our audiences have taken control of the media, and the main channels of communications are their personal social networks. We have no choice but to evolve, adapt and become more agile in our approach. If we don't meet this challenge, we will be left behind.

Last year, Econsultancy surveyed brands to understand how they were adapting to a more agile approach. They discovered that the biggest challenge faced by brand marketers is being able to master the operational management of digital systems in order to improve conversion rates, enhance the customer journey and adapt campaigns in real-time. This has become the evolved role of the media agency. Faced with competition from the technology providers themselves, we’ve had to shift our focus to software, data processing and technology architecture.

Take mobile campaigns for example. We only need to look at the meteoric rise of Facebook’s monthly mobile active users or YouTube’s increased share of mobile traffic to realise that a more responsive, customer focused approach is necessary to survive in the mobile era.

For mobile-first campaigns to succeed, agencies no longer have the luxury of spending months working on a single campaign or project and must instead, innovate and respond quickly to evolving customer needs. This means setting campaigns live quickly, then iterating based on analytics and user feedback to reduce the likelihood of errors and waste.

Different skill sets are now required from media agency staff. We need talent proficient in data analysis and technology enhancements, as well as business consultants, economists, programmers, editors and content producers.

But don't forget people. Marrying the language, cultures and disciplines of these very diverse skill sets is the greatest challenge we face as a group. Finding and nurturing this talent is vital to remaining agile in this new organic media world.

The role of the media agency is now as a technology partner, a behavioural psychologist, a programmatic delivery expert, a data analyst and specialist in a wide range of content solutions. But if we want to be all of these things, we cannot do it alone. It’s why we believe in partnerships with technology providers, new platforms and data sources.

Most recently, we’ve partnered with Mirriad, a global leader in native in-video advertising and Universal Music Group. The result will enable Universal to feature digital brand integrations into music videos on-air, online and on mobile. But, it will also allow us to incorporate video technology and content into ongoing research we conduct in media, content, technology and data science. Mirriad’s pioneering form of advertising has been described as ‘the cure for ad blindness’, with research proving brands are two times more likely to be top of mind with consumers watching native in-video ads than comparable pre-rolls or interstitial spots.

This is where agencies need to be—at the cutting edge of how people consume media. As the consumer's world becomes ever more connected, so too must we. Gone are the days of silos, paper walls between creative and media and a closed door to outside global partnerships. It's more than cooperation—it's collaboration. Collaboration between platforms, between people, between specialist skills, between media and creative.

In this organic world, it’s important to react in real-time, be open to outside expertise and to place specialist knowledge, data and content at the heart of the business. It’s what clients are looking for and it’s what will keep any agency relevant and vital in this digital, data-driven world.


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