Nasreen Madhany strikes a seriously glamorous New York note as she pours her tea in Neo@Ogilvy’s Cape Town offices, with the city and sweeping views of the harbour as the backdrop. The fishnet tights, the high high-heeled shoes, the stylish black outfit all shriek ‘big city glam’.
The global CEO of Neo@Ogilvy is in town to take part in a digital summit, hosted by the company’s Cape Town managing director, Mia Scholtz and attended by nine managing directors from around world. The purpose is to share information and brainstorm around emerging trends in the digital landscape.
South Africa is an important component, says Scholtz, because we have seen a 30 percent year-on-year growth in digital marketing.
“We need to meet face-to-face, even in the digital world,” says Madhany. “We like to meet in places where the landscape is shifting in terms of digital. South Africa is on a par with countries such as Canada and the Phillipines, and ahead of India. Our next summit is in Rio.”
She says one of the main purposes of Neo@Ogilvy is to “evangelise” digital with clients. It’s an educational process, and one that varies from country to country. South Africa, she believes, has almost skipped a step in terms of how the digital market developed in the United States and the United Kingdom, for example.
“It’s almost as if you’ve bypassed the web phase and gone to straight to mobi,” Madhany says. “You live in a world where the consumer there is a huge penetration of mobile devices.”
At the same time, clients cannot simply embrace mobile as their preferred channel because it’s all about integration. “We believe ad spend is becoming less ‘ad hoc’ and more integrated. You cannot have a media strategy now without including mobile,” she says. “It’s part and parcel of a 360 degree communications solution. It’s not about ‘digital versus traditional’. Creative and media people in an agency have to work together.”
But mobi has definitely emerged as a key trend. And that included devices such as the iPad and other tablets that “speaks to the adoption of an ‘always on’ consumer mentality; the convergence of social, local and mobile digital channels”.
“The great thing about mobile and the South African market is that there is space to innovate, to find innovative ways of marketing. It’s a very exciting market, and as an emerging market, on a par with Brazil.”
She said developed markets grow between eight and 10 percent per year, whereas the emerging market is growing between 30 percent and 50 percent, making it an important market in the digital world.
“That’s why Neo@Ogilvy has to be agile, flexible. We’re passing on our learning to clients, learnings that we’ve tested. We also need to caution clients because there are a lot of gimmicks out there, particularly when it comes to apps, for example. So you have to separate the gimmicks, the fly-by-nights, from true innovations in the digital landscape,” Madhany says.
Madhany says there have been many lessons to be learnt as the digital landscape emerged. One of the major ones, in her opinion, is the fact that newspapers didn’t specialise content for their websites. They believed that they could simply upload existing material from their print editions.
“The successful sites are the ones that put digital first. And those that created relevant content. You can’t dig in your heels and say ‘we’re a print brand’ because you will be passed over. Forbes is a company that has been fantastic in how they’ve integrated their print and digital products. Their print edition is still relevant while their online products deliver valued content, brilliantly,” Madhany says.
The digital summit in Cape Town revealed three key trends:
The mobile evolution:
Despite the penetration of mobile phones into the South Africa market and the increasing use of smart phones, the impact of empowering billions of people with real-time connected devices is in its infancy in this country.
Rise of the digital analyst:
With the push toward the use of more content on multiple channels, it is predicted that employers will be pressed to turn to digital analysts who source, monitor and interpret analytics to ensure the optimum use of mediums for each campaign. While not yet a recognized position in local media agencies, Neo has emphasized a strong focus on analytics throughout its channels and campaigns.
Integration: a deeper conversation:
While there is much talk about integration throughout agencies and from offline to online, the philosophy needs a deeper focus within digital. Current and future digital strategies can no longer rest on the performance of an individual digital channel such as web, mobile, search or social but rather, best performance lies in the use of inter-relationships between these channels with a strong search strategy at the heart of every digital campaign.
“While we recognise these and other trends, Neo’s advantage in the digital category, however, stems from our ‘always new’ rather than ‘innovation approach’ meaning that while Neo will always be an early adopter, we will continue to be channel neutral and use the best channel to meet our client’s business goals,” says Madhany.