A digital operation fit for the future

A digital operation fit for the future
SHARE
THIS


What best describes you?

With increased competition from local and offshore low-cost digital production outfits and a growing take-up of insourcing amongst clients, how can big ad agencies compete and differentiate themselves? Writes Cecile Ferre

Ad agencies are facing increased competition from offshore low-cost digital production shops. These shops can scale up at short notice to handle high volumes of work. They charge rates agencies cannot compete with. The question then becomes when and how to leverage their capabilities for our own and our clients’ benefits?

The local competition is no less significant. With marketing budgets contracting, agencies increasingly see their production fees benchmarked by their clients against smaller, cheaper local digital shops.

Some pro-actively initiate this benchmarking in order to keep their production costs down. At times, outsourcing to a lower cost partner of their choice becomes the only way of retaining control over the execution of their campaign ideas.

Additionally, clients have started insourcing all or part of their digital production requirements, mostly in an effort to generate further cost efficiencies. This can be observed with small and large businesses alike, and as it reduces their reliance on agencies, it gives the latter another reason to relook at their digital production strategy.

All of those trends combined have impacted on ad agencies’ digital production pipeline, with their operational costs and financial targets making it difficult to impossible to undercut in order to retain the work in house.

One other emerging trend is the set up of digital innovation labs start-up style within large client organizations. US corporations in retail and publishing are leading the way, such as Walmart with WalmartLabs and New York Times with its R&D Lab.

This shows there is an emerging yet growing appetite for digital products that will enhance or at best revolutionize existing business models as brands are trying to leverage new consumers’ behaviours. This is not so much of a threat however, but rather an opportunity for agencies with the right digital capabilities to tap into, lead and differentiate.

 How can ad agencies differentiate and create a digital operation fit for future?

I believe in the virtues of an operational model whereby we become more discerning on what we can realistically produce in house successfully versus what technologies or skills we are better off outsourcing to protect our clients’ timelines, the quality of our products and our margins.

This seems simple in theory; in practice, it is not so. It requires a fundamental change of mindset for some staff i.e. an acceptance that the work when outsourced won’t be less exciting for it. It also requires an adjustment to our ways of working and critically, a business decision and consensus on the skills that are best retained and up-skilled into versus those best outsourced.

In my opinion, outsourcing is well-suited for the production of both low-risk highly-commoditized and high-risk highly-specialized deliverables.

Banner resizes and eDMs fall into the first category – they rely on ever cheaper, standardized and common technologies and are often required in high volumes and short turnaround times; this makes offshore outsourcing the right solution.

Some of us may argue offshore shops will also soon master the production of high-end, complex digital products. The lack of local specialist talent and slow take-up of development and QA best practices however remain 2 major obstacles to this happening any time soon.

Niche technologies fall into the second category. A constant race to up-skilling across all new and emerging technologies and platforms is pointless. With so many appearing all the time and more frequently, it is hard to distinguish fads from enduring ones. 

Agencies are better off learning fewer technologies and core frameworks that have longevity, which they can own and master.  By outsourcing the others, they remove the risks of up-skilling on the job including missing deadlines and burning more head hours than planned for.

In both instances, considerable delivery risks exist, ranging from missed deadlines through misunderstood brief to poor quality control and coding standards. Poor coding standards make it hard to maintain and build upon the existing product in future, putting the initial investment at risk. These risks are best managed by specialist agency staff on behalf of their clients, leaving them less exposed.

The digital production skills ad agencies should retain in house for their own and clients’ benefits are those that not only are integral to the campaign idea generation process but also guarantee the viability, usability and quality of the end creative product.

These skills make up for a unique differentiator and a key contributing factor to the campaign success. They are a necessary part of the digital production process yet equally critical to shaping the campaign idea ahead of production commencing.

These skills are those detained by our user experience designers and creative technologists. Both are creative professionals in their own rights as well as production experts in their discipline. Their talent is critical to researching, prototyping and specifying in the detail the making of the digital ideas our clients buy.

The pairing of an art director and a writer with a UX designer and a creative technologist simply makes the digital end product stronger. As an integral part of the creative development process and campaign product DNA, their work should not be left to a third party – it is simply too invaluable a part of the IP our clients are buying.

By adhering to these key principles, we have found a way to maximise both campaign and cost effectiveness for our clients.

Cecile Ferre is GM of Digital Arts Network Sydney (part of the Whybin TBWA Network Australia)

Please login with linkedin to comment

Latest News

ABC Replaces Lateline With New 10.30pm National News Bulletin
  • Media

ABC Replaces Lateline With New 10.30pm National News Bulletin

The ABC has announced it will replace its axed current affairs program Lateline with a half-hour news bulletin to be hosted by seasoned presenter Jeremy Fernandez. The 30-minute late-night edition news will air Monday-to-Friday Australia-wide from 29 January. Fernandez will also continue to present the NSW 7pm News on Fridays and Saturdays. ABC Director, News Gaven […]

On Air sign in a studio broadcasting via radio, podcast or wireless transmission.
  • Media

ARN Announces Departure Of Content Director & Radio Veteran

Australian Radio Network (ARN) has announced that Charlie Fox, content Director for WSFM and The Edge, and WSFM morning announcer Ron E Sparks, have departed. Fox has been with ARN since 2005, and Sparks joined WSFM in 2002. ARN national content director Duncan Campbell said the departure of Fox and Sparks are part of the […]

OMD Announces New MD For Melbourne
  • Media

OMD Announces New MD For Melbourne

OMD unveils new Melbourne MD, and it certainly wasn't among any of B&T's picks. Not that we were picking, mind you.

Sydney Festival Chooses Brightcove To Enhance Online Video Content
  • Media

Sydney Festival Chooses Brightcove To Enhance Online Video Content

Video cloud service Brightcove has announced that Sydney Festival has selected the platform to improve its user experience through online video content. Brightcove will do so by removing third-party branding and pre-roll ads, as well as adding autoplay functionality, ahead of the event in January. Leveraging the Brightcove video platform to host and publish video […]

Does Your Christmas Marketing Suck?
  • Opinion

Does Your Christmas Marketing Suck?

Remember the old Palmolive soap ad that asked, "Don't wait to be told"? This is sort of similar, albeit sans any suds.

Opinion

by Peter Harris

Peter Harris
Queensland Anti-Porn Crusaders Cop Ad Ban
  • Campaigns

Queensland Anti-Porn Crusaders Cop Ad Ban

We have a strident anti-pornography policy at B&T. Earphones must be worn at all times and strictly no little people.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Nature’s Way Celebrates Big Things Little People Do In UCG Videos Via Wavemaker & Storyful
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns
  • Marketing

Nature’s Way Celebrates Big Things Little People Do In UCG Videos Via Wavemaker & Storyful

Health and wellbeing company Nature’s Way is celebrating the achievements of kids in a series of relatable and entertaining online videos that tug at the heart strings of parents. Instead of using actors to tell the brand story of Nature’s Way’s Kids Smart supplement range, Storyful has helped Wavemaker to license user-generated content clips of […]

DEC PR Wins Hisense Account
  • Marketing

DEC PR Wins Hisense Account

Electronics and whitegoods specialist Hisense has announced it has appointed DEC PR to lead its strategic communications remit in the local market, following a competitive tender process. DEC PR will work to support its brand building activities and managing corporate communications. The agency’s work will integrate closely with Hisense’s other marketing partners. Andre Iannuzzi, marketing […]

QMS Media Expands Presence In Melbourne With New Digital Billboard ‘The G’
  • Advertising
  • Media

QMS Media Expands Presence In Melbourne With New Digital Billboard ‘The G’

Outdoor media company QMS Media has strengthened its digital outdoor presence in Victoria, unveiling an iconic digital billboard in the heart of Melbourne’s famous sporting precinct. The launch of ‘The G’ sees QMS’ landmark digital portfolio ‘bookending’ arguably one of the most iconic and in-demand digital outdoor locations in Australia – Richmond Station Bridge – […]

HSBC Sydney 7s Creates New Visual Identity For 2018 Via Digilante
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns
  • Marketing

HSBC Sydney 7s Creates New Visual Identity For 2018 Via Digilante

As part of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, the Sydney 7s event returns in January complete with a new brand identity, creative strategy and media campaign. With the 2017 Sydney 7s a sell-out event, the challenge for 2018 was to carry that momentum into the third year, defining Sydney’s place as the new ‘go-to’ […]

Bound Round Launches Family Travel Publication for Aussies
  • Media

Bound Round Launches Family Travel Publication for Aussies

Family travel platform Bound Round has announced the launch of its first e-magazine to Australian consumers. Travel Bound is a family-focused, digital quarterly publication available on all Virgin Australia flights through the carrier’s in-flight entertainment system, and is also available for consumer download via the Bound Round website. Bound Round founder and CEO Janeece Keller […]

SBS Unveils New Look, New App For SBS News
  • Media

SBS Unveils New Look, New App For SBS News

Do you like say "I only watch SBS" in an attempt to sound smarter than you are? Well, why not pretend to read this too?

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Ex-Samsung CMO Joins Amazon Australia As Marketing Director
  • Marketing

Ex-Samsung CMO Joins Amazon Australia As Marketing Director

Amazon Australia has appointed former Samsung Electronics chief marketing officer (CMO) Arno Lenior to lead its marketing division. Lenior worked as Samsung’s CMO for more than three years before departing in 2015. According to his LinkedIn profile, he has also held CEO roles at VR company Virtical and brand consultancy Blue Ocean Brands, and joined […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
News Corp Names Its Car Of The Year
  • Marketing

News Corp Names Its Car Of The Year

News announces its annual Car Of The Year and it's not what you'd expect. Well, we certainly didn't expect it anyway.

Aussie Tennis Open & Country Road Announce New Partnership
  • Marketing

Aussie Tennis Open & Country Road Announce New Partnership

The Australian Open has partnered with iconic Australian clothing and lifestyle brand Country Road to supply the uniforms for next year’s tournament. Confirmed today as the official fashion lifestyle Partner of Australian Open 2018, one of Australia’s most loved brands will be worn by thousands of tournament staff at Melbourne Park in January. On-court officials including the chair and […]

Andrew O’Keefe Quits His Weekend Sunrise Duties
  • Media

Andrew O’Keefe Quits His Weekend Sunrise Duties

After 12 years with Weekend Sunrise, Andrew O’Keefe has decided to step away from his hosting and reporting duties. O’Keefe will continue his full-time role as host of Seven’s quiz show The Chase Australia, as well as focus on other projects with the Network. “The ideal job is doing work you love with people you love,” O’Keefe […]

Study: Brand Loyalty Hinges On Customer Support Experiences
  • Marketing

Study: Brand Loyalty Hinges On Customer Support Experiences

Fast and effective support will be a competitive differentiator for companies looking to win over digitally transformed customers and employees, new research has revealed. According to a study by IDC and LogMeIn titled Support Services as a Competitive Differentiator, nearly 67 per cent of consumers said that customer satisfaction was more important than price when […]

OMA Appoints Red Ant Design To Build Industry’s First Automated Proposal Platform
  • Advertising
  • Media

OMA Appoints Red Ant Design To Build Industry’s First Automated Proposal Platform

The Outdoor Media Association (OMA) has announced the appointment of Red Ant Design to build the out-oh-home (OOH) industry’s first automated proposal platform (APP). After an extensive global search and industry consultation, the decision to build the system in-house with a local Australian company was made. The APP will be built in an agile process, […]