Today’s media terrain is so diverse but that doesn’t mean services and service providers should work in silos, says Diane Charton.
In today’s complex media world, brands need a solid mix of traditional and digital media skills from their agencies if they are to achieve the best possible results from their marketing and advertising spend. With the growing maturity of digital channels and changing consumer behaviour, it is not advisable for agencies and marketers to regard ‘traditional’ and ‘digital’ advertising and marketing as discrete disciplines.
Instead, we need a more holistic approach to marketing and advertising that delivers co-ordinated and consistent messaging at different touch points, while using the strengths of different channels to heighten the impact of campaigns and strategies.
When the web started to explode 20 years ago, we saw the rise of specialist agencies that had the mixture of technical and business skills to create campaigns and strategies for the newly emerging channel. But, in recent years, the thinking has changed and brands and agencies alike have realised that digital and traditional channels do not exist in a vacuum.
Today, nearly every consumer interacts with at least some digital media and most campaigns will have digital components.
During the course of a typical day, consumers use multiple devices – tablets, smartphones, PCs and televisions – and consume print, radio, TV and digital media.
Our intended customer may even consume more than one channel at a time, for example, using a tablet for email and social media, while watching TV. We’re also seeing channels start to blend together. An example of this is people may listen to radio broadcasts on their PCs while browsing the internet. That means a siloed approach no longer makes sense.
However, the rise of connected markets that consume a range of different media has dramatically changed the skills needed in the agency landscape. Among other requirements, digital channels tend to place a heavy emphasis on process automation as well as gathering and analysis of data.
What’s more, digital channels and media demand levels of dialogue and interactivity that marketers and agencies coming from static, mass media are not accustomed to supporting. The technology has created new expectations of transparency, personalisation, immediacy and collaboration among consumers.
Complicating the picture even further is the way that the once-distinct lines are starting to blur between paid media (advertising), owned media (corporate websites, magazines and social media accounts) and earned media (public relations and social media mentions).
Against this backdrop, it is not surprising to see that the bigger agencies are growing their digital competencies, while digital agencies are upgrading their mass media competencies. We are also seeing specialist shops such as media buyers and social media experts join forces with bigger broad-based agencies or seek to create a wider portfolio of in-house skills.
These trends all come from the growing understanding that brands should no longer handle social media, traditional and digital media planning; reputation management, direct marketing, and other aspects of their marketing strategies, separately.
However, the process of growing capabilities and skills to execute campaigns across a number of channels takes time, and with technology moving so fast, it is hard for agencies to reskill at a rate that allows them to keep up.
In a fully matured industry, mass media and digital media agencies would not be positioned against each other, but we are still a way from reaching that point. That means the practical question for brands is how they can orchestrate skills from multiple agencies for holistic brand building and unified marketing strategies.
This story was first published in the September 2014 issue of The Media magazine.
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