There is a disagreement as to whether it is better to work with a full-service media agency with digital input or utilise specialist digital agencies. Here are some expert views.
Chris Botha, group MD of The MediaShop
Digital needs to be integrated into the media agency world. The reality is that we don’t have a separate print agency or a separate TV agency. We offer clients seamless solutions. If you don’t offer digital as a media agency, you don’t offer a seamless service. If you sell yourself as a communications solution provider you need to be able to look at the full ambit.
Consumers don’t look at media in isolation, and neither should we. In the long run, digital will become the biggest medium in South Africa. Where do these media agencies that don’t have a digital solution sit then? Our strategists work on holistic solutions, and it is in their best interests to know digital as well as they know TV. To farm it off elsewhere is archaic.
Jason Xenopoulos, CEO of NATIVE VML
The separation between digital and traditional has become extremely tenuous. We live in a connected world where digital is everything, but not everything is digital. Consumers expect to find the brands they love in the places they love to be, whether that is online or offline, and they expect those brands to remain consistent as they skip from touchpoint to touchpoint. Creating this kind of cohesive user journey requires integration across all channels. Ultimately forcing digital and traditional into artificial silos will dilute our ability to forge this kind of integration.
Despite this, we cannot ignore the fact that many traditional media agencies have limited digital knowledge as the nuances of performance marketing, programmatic buying and social are often a departure from their core competencies. Digital has introduced a new dimension to media and, in many instances, specialist digital agencies have a better understanding of this new paradigm than their traditional counterparts.
The result of this paradoxical state of affairs is that we are likely to see further consolidation in the market with traditional companies acquiring specialist digital skills and specialist digital agencies starting to expand their offering to include traditional channels.
In the end, there will be no distinction between digital and traditional. The only thing that will matter is effectiveness.
Alexander Kunz, client MD for Starcom MediaVest Group
Digital must be part of the whole agency offering as a holistic 360° approach is needed by all clients. We can’t think in silos anymore, as all media used interacts with consumers, and people are connecting via third and fourth screens while using the first screen or a hard copy print edition.
Offline media is driving search and social activities online. It’s better to drive consumers to the right touchpoints, engaging with them from the first digital touchpoint and guiding them to the point of sale.
Every strategist should be aware of digital opportunities, and similarly digital strategists should know the clients are coming from the ‘classical/traditional’ media. When it comes to planning, we need the specialists, just like we needed them for TV, radio, print and out of home.
Specialist digital agencies would be specialists in one digital media platform or have a local approach, but there aren’t any geographical boundaries online. On the clients’ side, the marketing teams may have enough in-house know-how and experience, but due to the ample supply of digital offerings they need more than just a specialist for the above mentioned reasons.
Celia Collins, MD Carat Johannesburg
Digital should be a part of the media agency. We should be planning digital in conjunction with all other mediums for these reasons:
Digital now crosses all media, what with radio streaming, out of home digital screens and print’s mobi sites.
As agencies we should plan across multi-screens and consider which screen could best reach consumers and engage with them.
Holistic planning will ensure all your media are linked and driving the same objectives.
We have programmatic buying within digital. Within the next few years most media – not just digital – will be planned and bought through programmatic buying.
Strategists should be looking at the holistic campaign and not just ‘bite size’ elements when working on a client’s strategy.
Every media agency should incorporate digital, otherwise they will be left behind in this changing landscape.
Colin Daniels, CEO of Grenade
As a specialist digital agency, we believe there are numerous benefits to being independent. One of the main benefits is the ability to provide unbiased information and advice to our clients without worrying about where we fit into the overall media plan and how much budget has been allocated to digital.
Another massive benefit is that we are able to stick to our ‘knitting’ and stay abreast of emerging trends and develop skills internally, which we believe gives us an edge over media agencies where digital is just one small piece of the puzzle. Independent digital agencies are a great option for clients who prefer a best-of-breed partner and would rather have more attention focused on digital channels.
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