A quick intro to Programmatic

It is not new, yet, there are so many marketers out there (and well as agency folks), who have no real idea on what ‘Programmatic’ really means in media.

Let’s start with the wikipedia explanation: Programmatic media (also known as programmatic marketing or programmatic advertising) is technology that automates the buying, placement, and optimisation of media inventory, replacing human-based methods. In this process, supply and demand partners utilize automated systems and business rules to place advertisements in electronically targeted media inventory. It has been suggested that programmatic media is a fast-growing phenomenon in the global media and advertising industry.
Programmatic platforms are coming into their own these days, and there are quite a few around. The number keeps going up. And, there’s a lot of jargon that comes with it:  RTB, SSP, DSP, DMP, and more… A 2014 Forrester study found that only 23% of marketers properly understood programmatic buying.
Changes are happening every week, and the whole concept is going through rapid evolution. Today, programmatic is being used to transact video inventory, marketers are being challenged to learn the nuances between buying display inventory and video inventory programmatically.
You have to remember that data is essential to the idea of programmatic. Access to a range of good quality data cis essential to programmatic efforts and data comes from a variety of sources. “Second and third-party data can be very useful, but for many marketers, collecting and putting to good use first party data – the data they gather from their own websites and online platforms – is absolutely critical to taking advantage of the programmatic opportunity.”
Because data is critical, , data management platforms (DMPs) are taking on an increasingly important role. Most media professionals agree that DMPs are key to future of programmatic marketing.
The way programmatic works with “inventory” is also evolving. While most programmatic inventory was remnant display inventory in the early days, this is now no longer valid in the singular.  There are so many new of private exchanges, select marketers can programmatically purchase publishers’ best inventory. And, programmatic is now in video territory, meaning, it has gone beyond just display ad front.
Many media agencies leverage technology partners with access to ad exchanges, while others have chosen to develop their own trading desks that allow them to directly transact in media programmatically.
Programmatic media buying allows the use of audience insights and technology to tailor messages to a particular individual, at a particular moment, in a specific context, ultimately enabling an additional layer of value.
Programmatic media is transacted across a wide and diverse array of mediums including digital media (desktop, mobile and social media), TV), Print, Radio and some OOH.
Technological innovation, an abundance of data, and liquidity in the media has given way to a more democratised process, which has changed the mechanics of transacting media in a manner that has never been possible before. The industry is going through something akin to the automation of the financial markets in the 1980s, allowing much more precision and personalisation.

Specialization and Integration in Advertising and Marketing

Is our world of advertising and marketing headed towards super specialization? Or, in a weird, wonderful, roundabout way, are we headed towards a more collaborative, integrated environment?

Advertising was an art form. A creative beauty. Then, somewhere along the way, it evolved into both a n art and science. With accountability, with data, with technology and its immense enabling power, today advertising per se does not exist apparently. Today it is engagement, today it is conversation, it is dialog. And it is fast becoming a collective of specializations. Skill sets are no longer broad spectrum, they are now highly honed areas of zoomed in qualities and knowledge.

Cesar Hidalgo, a physicist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and author of Why Information Grows, coins the word “personbyte” to describe the amount of knowledge that one person can reasonably know. The personbyte isn’t getting any smaller but — relative to the knowledge that needs to be mustered to produce a modern scientific paper, or a computer, or a car — the personbyte looks ever more inadequate.

In our context, this 'personbyte' is becoming highly demanding, and thus asking for head spaces that are guardians of specifics rather than wide spectrum. You cannot be an expert in SEO and SEM at the same time. You cannot really write great copy and also edit film. You cannot be the one who translates data into insight and then photoshop it into a beautiful instagram. Or can you?

Here, team work is becoming important. This seems to be the only way to break free from the limits of 'personbyte' in our world. Thus, within an agency environment, integration and working together is becoming key. One person cannot hold all the necessary know-how in her head, so she must work together with others. One agency, in theory, has the same constraints. Thus it is becoming important, and imperative for a specialized creative agency to work with a highly skilled data agency. A media planning agency with a highly tech driven buying agency that say, specializes, in Real Time Bidding.

And were increasingly seeing this model succeed with large groups of agencies who have multiple specializations within their umbrella shade, going in together and offering 1+1=11 solutions. Offering integrated thinking and integrated doing. Like the old world of through-the-line. But this time a bit different. The sum of the parts being greater than the whole. Gestalt.

Today's pitch teams in the agency world are huge. At least in the planning and prep stage. Several specialist skills now input where usually a creative team would 'crack the pitch deck' in the early days. This is a natural step in the evolution process of our world of consumer engagement, because there are so many channels, so many voices, so many ways to connect, that one needs so many guides to bring it all together. And large agency groups are going in, armed with better insights, better data to back up their claims, better creative (born out of better inputs) and result driven marketing solutions that can be analyzed, measured and revised as needed. All by specialists. All working together.

5 Factors of Display Ad Viewability

There is a lot of debate around display ad viewability. Many of the ads that brands pay for never really appear on the display screen. Advertisers are ken to shift towards paying for viewable instead of served impressions and thanks to advancements in technology and better standards in tracking we are now able to measure which digital ads are actually viewed.

The industry standard of a viewed ad is simple: A display ad is considered viewable when 50% of an ad’s pixels are in view on the screen for a minimum as defined by the of one second, Media Rating Council. Out of this we get what is called a 'Viewability Rate' … Percentage of ads determined viewable out of the total number of ads measured.

Here are five key factors to consider regarding ad viewability:

1. Page position is key. The most viewed ads are right above the fold – not on top of page.

This goes against what most marketers believe. Age old wisdom (actually, how old is age old in the interweb?) suggests that the horizontal banner on top of the page is the win-win. Well, not according to studies from Google. Ads that appear just about above the fold are the winners. 

2. Ad size does matter! Google reminds us that the most viewable ad sizes are vertical units. Not a surprise, since they stay on screen longer as users move around a page. The highest scoring ad size is the 120x240 format placed just around above the fold. Other good sizes are the 240x400, the 160x600 and the 120x600 (width first in all size references). All of them score above 50%.

3. Above the fold does NOT guarantee viewability. Surprised? While average viewability rates are better when ads are above the fold, but page position isn’t always the best indicator of viewability. Not all above-the-fold impressions are viewable, while many below-the-fold impressions are. Around 68% of above the fold ads are viewed. And around 40% of ads below the fold are viewed. 

4. Viewability rates vary with industry or content verticals. While it ranges across content verticals, or industries, content that holds a user’s attention has the highest viewability. So this takes us back to the importance of both content and context. 

Online reference and communities fare the best while internet and telecom and hobbies and leisure driven verticals are at the bottom of the chart. Here again, it is important to remember pull vs push content and context. If I am looking for something and you are showing me an ad in that context with relevant content, you score higher. 

5. The publisher is important. A small number of publishers are serving most of the non-viewable impressions; 56.1% of all impressions are not seen, but the average publisher viewability is 50.2%. When planning your media distribution, it's probably best to ask for the publishers viewability standards and their average rates.

Note: All intelligence in this article is from Google data.

Back pain, osteopathy, and best doctors in Dubai

This post is about something that plagues a lot of residents in Dubai – back pain. I’ve looked through many referral and recommendation websites, and tried to find a solution, having suffered for years with back pain. Over the last few months the condition really went from bad to worse,  and the pain started to radiate down my buttocks and thighs  all the way to my calves. The pain was really severe, and I went and saw a string of doctors to no real improvement.

I’ve gone to see a sports specialized orthopedic surgeon, who did x-rays and said I had a slipped disc which was in the L4/L5 region (lower back) and recommended physiotherapy. I went for 10 sessions of physio, and while this helped temporarily, it just went back to pain-state soon after.
Next, I saw a chiropractor, and went for two sessions, but was told I would really need at least 10 quick sessions before any improvement. My whole structure was apparently out of whack, I had one leg longer etc etc. With zero improvement after  two special sessions, I gave up.
Then a friend recommended I see a specialist Osteopath – Dr Malcom Gregory at the Osteopathic Health Centre on Al Wasl Road in Umm Sequim. He is an experienced Osteopath, who listened to my problems and did some manipulations and really helped me. I had two sessions with him – and did see a lot of improvement. Unfortunately, he was traveling, when suddenly my pain absolutely got the best of me.
Every morning I would start the day, bent over forward, because I could not stand up stand up straight. Through the day, I had occasions of shooting pain down my butt and upper thighs, and sometimes down my leg. It felt like severe sciatic pain, or if you read up, it could have been a piriformis syndrome problem. I would often just freeze, unable to move. Sitting was a problem, walking was a problem, driving…
Someone at work recommended I see Dr Stephen Richardson, an Osteopath at GMC Clinics in Tecom. I went and saw him last week, and he, after patiently listening to my history and examining me, did some manipulations, helping with movement and basically helping to loosen up my tightness (in lay terms). He also used kineseo taping on my lower back, and I must admit, after weeks of intense pain, I felt immediate relief that day onwards.  He also suggested I ice my lower back a couple of times a day, which also helped a lot.
My body felt more balanced, I did not feel restricted, I could stand up straight, and overall,the pain really went down. I kept the tape on for three days, until I knew I would see him again, and took off the tape. Things changed immediately, and the pain came back like it was before. I was suddenly stooped forward again, having surges of pain down my thighs. Luckily, I had an appointment with him, early this morning, and he listened to how it had improved, checked out my back again, and taped me up.
I felt immediate relief. It is early days yet, it has just been a few hours since I saw him, but I feel compelled to post this, because it is important that back pain sufferers in Dubai know that there is a solution. Osteopathy works, and both osteopaths have helped me, specially Dr Richardson. Thank you Steve.

Osteopathy is a type of alternative medicine that emphasizes the physical manipulation of the body's muscle tissue and bones. Uniquely for the United States, osteopathic medicine there constitutes a branch of the medical profession. Practitioners of that branch of medicine are called osteopathic physicians, and are trained and certified to practice the entire scope of the modern medicine.

Kineseo taping (as used by Dr Richardson: Elastic therapeutic tape is an elastic cotton strip with an acrylic adhesive that is used with the intent of treating pain and disability from athletic injuries and a variety of other physical disorders.

Don't get caught with .sucks

Yes, there are quite a few new TLDs (Top Level Domains) that have come around lately, but the one that is causing a lot of heat out there is .sucks – a domain that's bound to attract a few corporates worried about their image out there.

Brands now have an ability to buy their very own companyname.sucks domain to prevent cybersquatters who will inevitably see this as a goldmine. Well, actually, it's rather stupid. The average consumer does not even know about this one yet, and I don't see them rushing in to defame their hated brand or product by spending a few dollars. 

In the meantime, the operator offering the .sucks domains are asking for $2,499 per year for registration. Oh my! This seems a bit of a stretch for a brand trying to be defensively cautious. Several complaints have reached ICANN (the overall domain management authority) about this. Some brands have already given in and booked their dot.sucks domain.

I didn't think this is astute or clever at all. There are so many social media opportunities for consumers to rant and complain, that blocking one single channel is hardly going to stop the negative from hitting the online space. Unhappy consumers or customers who have issues with a brand, company or product will always find ways to express their displeasure – and brands are being unnecessarily paranoid and spending good marketing money to try and block just one channel. That kinda .sucks.

From Advertising to Always On. Futureproofing the creative agency with agility.

Transforming the creative agency to help it adapt to the challenges brought by (digital) technology and tailor it for the future.

Technology. There’s good news and bad news. Good news is that it’s allowing us to embrace innovation and come up with “new-improved” ways of reaching the consumer. Bad news is that, quite often today’s creative agencies are behind the pace in adapting to the light-speed changes that are happening around us and having to drag themselves just to stay in the race.

Adapting is not new to ad agencies. They are the ones that invented “new and improved” and put it on boxes of detergent, on decongestants and electronics.  Changing agency structure, setting up new divisions, re looking at HR strategies and revamping business strategies have always been part and parcel of being an ad agency. But when it comes to technology and “Adopting” beyond “Adapting” agencies are having to seriously introspect and re-evaluate everything.

The problem with technology is that it truly follows the “change is a constant” mantra. And the speed at which technology is changing is just way too quick at times for a business that some say is the second oldest in mankind’s history. When word of mouth became word of mouse, and clicks and swipes blurred lines of engagement, agencies had to refocus, remodel and re-contextualize.

The creative agency today is really a content agency. The business is a hybrid of Campaign and Always On. Most creative agencies are used to the Campaign mode – they’re familiar with brand building: where the modus operandi is pre-planned, based on research and insight, revolving around a singular idea (remember USP?), with high production values and one which reached the consumer via a media plan. Container driven, and focused on a brief.  Boxed in. Today, they’re having to focus on Experience building via an Always On mode. Where most often it is response and interactive, based on listening, not via ads but via content windows, not via one way but via dialog, with lightweight distribution being key and when the ability to publish and distribute as and when is key. See the shift?

Creative agencies are having to quickly adapt to this shift. The move away from one-way advertising to a world of engagement where the brand and consumer is engaged in a dialog. The move away from a simple four step model of  Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action to social media driven always-on, multiple stages of brand and consumer locked together beyond the A-I-D-A model into shared interest, shared action, loyalty, advocacy and a whole lot more. All with content at core. Every bit of brand-consumer interaction is a bit of content, and it’s no wonder that creative agencies today are re-visioning themselves towards the creation and delivery of content.

This calls for a whole new look at how the business operates. Integrated offerings are becoming key in the new world, and the survival of agencies and the product it delivers needs to be beyond just evolutionary changing, it requires a revolutionary, disruptive model. Today, creative folks who are planning consumer engagement strategies and implementation, need to know not just what, but how, where, why, when and who. So, hiring creative talent today needs to be a deep dive into what that talent is aware of – the possibilities that technology brings, the avenues that open up, the behaviors that are changing every day. Agencies today are not just hiring creative, they are looking for a new breed – creative technologists. Folks who can harness the power and prowess of technological advances towards creating endearing, entertaining experiences.

Let’s look at HR strategies a bit more then. Not just in recruiting but even in the way agencies are structured and people nurtured and grown, how the best ‘aware’ talent is retained and new people are recruited on a continuum, talent that is niche specialized in new emerging platforms. Copywriters need to understand SEO. Art directors need to have a handle on UX. Production staff need to understand file formats and sizes like never before. And, in structure they need to be liquid, in a free flow. There’s a new call for creative agencies to hire the best ‘digital pure plays’ (specialists in specific genres – the Vine generators, the instagram creators, the tweet warriors). Some agencies are diving into the deep end of this pool. Others are going for the ‘hybrid-as-minimum’ requirement in their hiring policies.

Some agencies are going overboard – forgetting that technology is not a solution in itself.  Whatever they do, structure wise, talent wise, business model wise, there needs to be recognition that technology is after all merely an enabler, a connector.  Creative agencies don’t need to overnight become technology companies, but each and every one needs to understand it, and be comfortable at procuring and using technology and platforms. Creativity in this digital age
is about recognizing the behavior of our target audiences. What surrounds them, their interests, their passions. Beyond that, technology should remain transparent and not obvious.

At the core the raison d'etre for a creative agency is connecting the brand to the consumer. One cannot lose that as a focal point. Everything else is a means to that end. An agency’s core is, and should be adding value to the client’s business, solving the client’s problem. That fundamental remains the same. And today, what’s an addendum to that is that one can achieve a lot of that core requirement with flexibility and agility. Specially when it comes to using technology. That’s how you futureproof your creative agency.

Future proofing structure. Today, one has to be open to diversity and dexterity in structure. This is a call for innovation – at the center of how there needs to be a right mix of people, set up and way of working, way of developing and delivering the end product. This means having different people with different skillsets all in the right places, and having a liberating, open structure and business model so they can thrive, be inventive and stay on the ball. This means creating the right conditions so that this new generation of talent can thrive and excel. Being malleable and ductile in structure is the way of the future. And being able to create a genuine setup that converts data, often big data, into clever insight. This is certainly a new structure, a new specialization, and one has to be a 100% comfortable with this.

Future proofing business models.  This needs a long hard look at billing, revenue, remuneration and contracts. If digital driven engagement today is asking for a Cost per Acquisition or Cost per Lead model, are agencies stuck with retainers? Should creative agencies bill on successful engagement patterns? On volume and depth of dialog vs number of print ads rolled out? Some relationships are moving from retainer models to project based billings. Others are moving from lump sum project fees to views generated on YouTube. True Views, not robot views. And, yes, you can tell. In short, there’s a call to adapt, behave like a start-up if you will. With openness to whatever comes. And goes.

Future proofing people. You can’t just keep hiring new talent to keep up with the demands of this new age. Or keep letting people go because they get stagnant and are not up to the latest trends and technologies. People need to be developed, taught, nourished and nurtures so that they are keen and willing to stay with the times, and that they have the right resources and the leadership that guides them towards the future.

Future proofing product. This one is an ever changing one, ever evolving, always following trend and trying to keep a finger on the pulse of what’s hot, what’s not and what the consumer is most demanding. One cannot second guess this, one can only stay with it the tide, ride it to reap maximum impact and benefit for the clients’ brands. Even within individual platforms, the possibilities are always increasing as technologies are enabling new ways to engage the consumer. Look at YouTube. Could you see the 5-second video coming in strong as a marketing tool? Could you see Snapchat or Vine as marketing streams just a few months ago? What’s the future? IOT? Wearable marketing? Yes, of course, and then some. Here’s where you need insight, here’s where you need people within your structure who can spot the hot stuff a heart beat ahead of the rest.

Future proofing clients. This is important, because if the clients don’t believe in what’s around us and what will be around us, you cannot future proof your agency. There’s no point in building structure, capability, talent, if you don’t have a client who believes in it. This requires shared learning, shared data, some hand holding, and a lot of playing prophet.

And that, to summarize is how you be and stay ahead of the rest. By playing prophet. By having a courageous, prophetic point of view that can see and actualize tomorrow, today. And by being nimble, turning around, sideways, forwards, backwards, and sometimes even upside down. That’s what agility is all about.

Tom Roychoudhury is chief innovations officer of MCN: Middle East Communications Network – one of the largest groups of advertising, marketing, media and social agencies in the region.

Wearables, IOT and the Ad Industry: A ‘Watching’ Game

While Wearables and IOT are taking the world by storm, the advertising industry, particularly in the region, is holding back to see where its headed.  And that’s no surprise because every one is waiting to see if this is going to be yet another game changer for the industry like mobile was, and still is.

Wearables and IOT – for both the consumer and the marketer is really about “discovery”. While consumers will take to it much faster than advertisers and media planners, investment in this platform will depend on what that “discovery” factor pans out to be. Just how much data, how much insight can come out of these devices, and how much can marketers push through to them for the consumer to discover. The Wearable and IOT marketing platform somehow looks set to become an exchange. It’s a two way information microhighway being built out there.

This information will really be about behavior and targeting. And because location based is almost a given in this genre, targeting becomes easy and real-time marketing becomes both measurable and simple. It will be a heady mix of qualitative data (from the consumer’s devices) towards creating quantifiable results. The holy grail of what our industry is about.

Aside from the massive impact it may have on health marketing (and that’s a huge industry-within-industry in marketing), one can foresee everyday brands relish the possibilities as well. When your fridge alerts your watch (IOT & Wearable in synergy) that you are out of milk, why can’t your nearest supermarket send you an ad for milk, or the milk brand itself inform you of choices between full cream, low fat and skimmed? 

Wearables have the inherent promise of super personalized, in the here and now brand experiences that will add value to the consumer. And that’s what the consumer wants – experience where the outcome is value. The possibilities of wearables and psychology based marketing triggers that respond to your mood, your state of mind, your daily patterns is going to open doors to highly customized messaging. So, yes, it will be all about data and the exchange of it.

The possibilities are mind boggling. Can an insurance brand send you messages of lowered premiums because the IOT in your car can sense that you are a safe driver. Or a better health insurance rate because they know you’ve been working out five days a week by evaluating data from your wristband or watch?

Then of course, there are these ideas of driving ads and messages, and even full-on brand-immersed experiences through to those screens on your smartwatch. Will tiny branded seven second vides be cool on your smartwatch? Along with a map of the nearest brick-and-mortar retail outlet? And a coupon to boot? Because these gadgets mostly all have Location-based marketing possibilities, instant discounting, multi-screen marketing (where the watch and mobile will let you jump from one screen to another) and intent or interest based messaging becomes exciting.

Here in the Middle East, we have a high penetration of smartphones, in fact, the UAE has the highest in the world. Data is becoming cheaper, and we can assume that mobile solutions providers will bundle data with devices as they emerge. This will certainly help real time marketing efforts and should change media planning in the very near future.  Once the Apple Watch appears on wrists and the several other devices on Android mature, we are likely to see increased investments on these channels of communications and them emerging from under the rock called niche.

Brands need to be consistent across the various always-on platforms with their messaging, their look and feel of communications and be careful with the consumers concerns on privacy and intrusion.  But I’m willing to bet that we’ll see standardized ad formats appear soon (like TapSense already is projecting in the US for the Apple Watch) and that forward thinking brands will find exciting new ways to reach out to the consumer and engage on the one device that is not just always-on – both literally and physically. Even while one sleeps.

Here’s to marketing sweet dreams. And reality. Coming soon to a gadget you are wearing.

 As published in Apps magazine

Tom Roychoudhury is chief innovations officer of MCN: Middle East Communications Network – one of the largest groups of advertising, marketing, media and social agencies in the region.

The Year Ahead for Ad Agency Integration

MCN chief innovations officer Tom Roychoudhury writes in Campaign magazine on the year ahead for integration as a model in the advertising and marketing industry
Can integration in our business be reverse engineered? Once you define that what is crucial, absolutely, is the client’s brand, and what benefit you can provide to it from a advertising, marketing, media perspective, making a giant leap, and then taking steps back into realizing that leap may be an innovative, inventive approach to integration.
Integration is not necessarily about a one-stop-solution story. Nor is it about a ‘total solution’ (that bad word from ‘Jargons-2012’ we save for technology salesfolks). We need to understand that this is about a holistic approach that offers beginning-to-end (no, not end-to end, that’s again tech) unifying strategy that is made manifest in well-glued expressions and experiences whether it be great creative, superbly crafted media planning, jaw-dropping media buys and equally vocal support from other components like Search, Social and more.
Gestalt, then. That’s the end goal of integration. Where the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. And yes, today, with the shift from traditional to always-on, and the leap into experiences and value addition and consumer being king and queen and UGC jack, all this can be reverse engineered. Because it’s all about the base, as the song goes. And the base is what the process does for the outcome. Where we start with a fluid solution and then find the crucibles that can grind out the ingredients. So, channel-agnostic thinking in the beginning and screen-neutral delivery at the end become synonymous and malleable as ends and beginnings have one purpose. Outcome.
We’re talking ‘integration’ here as an agency-to-client delivery model. And three models emerge from where I’m looking. The old school ‘One Agency Does It All’ model, and it works well in some cases. That’s how it used to be. And even today I can think of a couple of agencies that operate this way, and they bring a well-rounded offer to the table. All revenues (at the agency) head to one bottom line, no one has to send irate texts, and from planning to execution, it usually gets done in one location. Sometimes separated by stairs. But it gets done, stairs and all.
Then there’s a new school approach to integration where disparate agency brands with a common goal try desperately to work like model one – like the old school one agency model. This has a lot of work involved. You have different interests (well, except the one common goal of winning a new client), different books to keep, different egos to manage, and different OS. This model sometimes works, sometimes totally falls apart. Usually it works when the agencies have some common flag, a feeling of belonging to some kind of a group, some uncle in New York with the same DNA.

Where model two (the one with the uncle in New York) falls apart is usually after the honeymoon. Differences of opinion about bottomlines is equally as destructive as disagreements on deadlines. Client relationships and interpersonal skills vary because agency cultures vary, and there’s hardly a common denominator holding the ongoing process together. And because people are different, interests are different (other than the one common client) and the Uncle in New York is an absentee at meetings.
Then there’s model three. I call this the model of interdependence. Where (usually) the agencies are from a common and identified group. It’s the alignment here that works – OPEC like, towards that common goal – which is supposed to be the end goal of producing outstanding work across all verticals with equal competence and equal flair. This common standard is crucial according to a leading group CEO I have access to. ‘You can’t go in there with three hares and a tortoise’ he says. Guess that’s a hard shell.
Works best, this one, with an umbrella on top – an icon of assurance for the client. This is emerging as a winning formula. When this works, properly, it’s an invention of sorts, because very player at every level needs to recognize the fluidity of process, and recognize the pampas like level of the playing field, and have a self-policed adherence on a blanket ban on egos – all for one common good. The outcome.
Integration works across different agency models and specializations. Today, when we talk about the consumer being the center of our universe, and experience being his scepter, it can bring multiple facts of our industry together – all for one purpose. The what (creative), the where (media agency), at which touch points effectively (media again), amplifying it (the PR agency), spreading it (social), feeding the curiosity (Search) are all important journey touch points that can be integrated as one for the client. And, ideally, which client wouldn’t want that? If it ticked all his check boxes? Specially the financial ones?
Frankly, it’s becoming easier with this world going digital. With agencies all trying harder to be better at digital, lines are being blurred, and there’s a better understanding of each other’s specializations because there’s a lot of commonalities, and of course, of how being interdependent to win and retain a client’s business is better than independently doing half a slice of it. And in this, model three, the group agencies get this holistic approach best of all. They have strengths in larger talent pools, geographical coverage, in structure and of course in both experience and expertise.
What’s key here in the third model – the one of glorious interdependence – is the glue. Not the sticky mess of discordance forced together out of financially motivated experimentation, but the synergistic, orchestrated magic of harmony of genuinely producing a great result. Sometimes a group leader (a group CEO, for instance) holds the key to this magic. Sometimes it is an innovative ‘integration engineer’ who can add one and one and get eleven. But it needs direction, motivation, sometimes a pull, and often a push. This integration is a powerful, graceful animal to watch in motion, but it is a needy, hungry animal, at the same time.