Rhandell Rubio
Aug 26, 2011

INTERVIEW: Isobar's Chris Ryan warns of a changing media landscape

ASIA-PACIFIC - Chris Ryan, the newly-appointed international client director (Asia-Pacific) at Isobar, says the media space in Asia is being challenged by issues of talent retention, digital transparency, and 'convergence'.

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In describing the role of media in today's rapidly evolving world, Ryan emphasises that the key word for the Isobar network, and the media industry in Asia as a whole, is 'convergence'.

"Convergence is key because people are increasingly connected and social," he tells Campaign. "There are connected devices, connected content, connected people, and connected experiences. What this equates to is a complete transformation in the media environment and there are some agencies that are ready for this, while a lot are not," he explains.

Furthermore, accurate and timely metrics are becoming more and more vital, particular for agencies working in digital media. "Alongside this convergence, the reality is that we are now working in an environment that is very measurable — it is the most measurable medium on earth which means that the second role for media agencies, other than guiding their clients through this wilderness of convergence, is to help clients with the measurability and to be able to demonstrate that the media environment can be monetised."

He says some clients have been slow to take full advantage of digital opportunities, but it is up to agencies to bring them up to speed.

"We've got to demonstrate to them that there is another way aside from the traditional mindset of doing their business, that they need to try and test these new channels," he says. "Invariably, when they start to see there are very tangible results, then they will know that there is a reason to move across.

"That's why they hire people like us. It is actually on us to educate clients."

While most media agencies are aware that there is still more room to move in the digital sphere, many struggle to realise their goals because of a lack of available talent.

"They get the revenue, but then they've got to get the digital people and there aren't many of them out there and they come at a high cost," Ryan says. "If they are expensive and there aren't many of them out there, then you neutralise the positive effect of good revenue from the digital side which is the case across Asia. Talent retention is crucial."

Another issue currently haunting digital media buyers and planners concerns transparency. "You've got to be transparent in digital because everything is measurable," Ryan says, noting that this has an important impact on agencies who have to be accountable. "Digital is the most measured medium on earth and the number of KPIs we're starting to see out of it are immense and some of those are attached to our KPIs and service level agreements. Other than the fact we have to show the money, we do have to show that we can monetise the media effort, at the same time possessing a good analytics team and retaining them."

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