While absolute comparisons with media agencies across the pond aren’t always helpful, seeing how we stack up against others can open the door to new ideas and help set a benchmark to work towards.
As a SCOPEN partner, we’re able to get insights picked up by Cesar Vacchiano, President and CEO of SCOPEN International, while he’s working in regions where he’s active with SCOPEN.
While presenting AGENCY SCOPE to Colombian agencies, we asked Vacchiano about the media agency landscape.
“Media agencies in other emerging markets are very similar to those in South Africa,” he notes. “Marketers in Colombia are very demanding in wanting integrated services from their creative agencies, and in the last few years creative agencies have evolved to attract talent in many disciplines related with BTL and digital.
“Traditional PR is still a challenge, even if agencies have reinforced their offering around social media and influencers,” he says.
We note here that AGENCY SCOPE’s Media Trends Report for 2019-2020 shows that South Africa and Colombia rank account service from their agencies almost equally.
Says Vacchiano: “Media agencies in Colombia are strongly ranked by their clients in their traditional services, such as media planning and media buying, and in recent years they have also reinforced their offering in programmatic – that is, using software to purchase digital advertising.
“The challenge for media agencies,” he adds, “is moving into other territories that are growing in importance for marketers. These are mainly related to research, data and analytics, strategic planning, digital strategy, branded content, social media, and influencers.”
South Africa’s top five most important disciplines for marketers are, in order of importance, market knowledge, media planning and expertise, creativity, account service, and research data and tools. Vacchiano says data from Colombia shows their top five most important disciplines for marketers are strategic planning, creativity, digital strategy, research and media planning.
“In mature markets we see that media agencies cover four of these sectors very strongly – the exception being creativity. In South Africa, as in other emerging markets such as Colombia, Mexico, China and India, media agencies are still only covering two sectors, these being research and media planning.”
The more media agencies attract and hire strategic planners and digital experts, Vacchiano suggests, the more strongly positioned they would be to solve marketers needs and become more indispensable for them.
“Media agencies haven’t succeeded in attracting, hiring and retaining creative talent and this makes them weaker when offering solutions such as those required for branded content. It’s a pity that while media agencies have the relationships with media owners, they lack the talent in strategy and creativity to propose branded content ideas to their clients.”
Meeting the challenges ahead
According to Vacchiano, the key challenge is to move further into territories such as ecommerce, precision marketing and all things related to personalisation and automation.
“Very few agencies are experts in these areas that and seek partners with this expertise.
“The Covid-19 crisis and lockdown in many countries has demonstrated to marketers that they need to sell online and have strong partners that help them to navigate the new marketplaces.”
South Africa too faced a sudden surge in ecommerce during lockdown, and those able to move rapidly into online sales fared better than their slower counterparts – and will continue to do so for some time to come.
The exceptions to this rapid reshuffle was Brazil and Japan, says Vacchiano, where creative and media agencies are integrated and can meet all a client’s needs under one roof.
“Agencies in these countries are much better prepared to compete against the consultancies and digital players with stronger capabilities and tighter relationships with their clients,” he says.
The bottom line, says Vacchiano, is that “media agencies that build close relationships and learn to collaborate with other partners will be better prepared to survive than those that remain solving only media planning and buying for their clients.
“Those two disciplines are becoming commodities for marketers and there is no competitive advantage solving them, even if you believe you are the best.”
We at the IAS are following global trends around the massive change brought on by the global pandemic. It is likely, we believe, to have media agencies across the globe looking at best-practice scenarios that work in more than just one specific market.
Want to continue this conversation on The Media Online platforms? Comment on Twitter @MediaTMO or on our Facebook page. Send us your suggestions, comments, contributions or tip-offs via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.