In this guest post, Hogarth Australia CEO, Justin Ricketts (pictured below), says agencies might be adjusting to this era of content overload but, he argues, the actual production process is failing to keep pace…
Most advertisers are clear that digital has changed everything. While the advertising industry is adapting, the world of advertising production hasn’t always evolved at the same pace. However, client needs mean that creative agencies, their production arms and production companies, face a period of great change and it’s not going to slowdown any time soon.
Looking back, innovation in advertising production was all about localisation and adaptation. The way in which we used to work was relevant to the type of content we were creating and how people consumed and engaged with advertising. Now, it’s all about creating more for less, reusing assets, delivering brand consistency at scale, content personalisation and being able to create content that reacts to trends and events in real-time.
In a world where so much content needs to be produced, where there’s complexity in terms of producing digital content, as well as pressure on budgets and timeframes, now is the right time for change. Production now needs to be managed in a more coherent and holistic way and it needs to be managed at scale. The success and future of the advertising industry will rely heavily on how effectively production teams can work around existing challenges, prepare for the future and continue to grow.
The choice for production is to stay stale and carry on with the same traditional models that even brands have opted to move away from; or create a more collaborative and innovative approach that will adapt to these new market pressures.
So, what are the main areas to address?
Clients need to consider decoupling and consolidating their production needs
Clients are under continued pressure to produce more content, face increasing challenges in terms of digital requirements, and constantly see on-going reductions in their budgets. Advertising production is one of the most expensive parts of the ad cycle – made more complex by the volume of content, number of channels and has now become increasingly specialised.
In order to survive, we’ve seen brands slowly move away from traditional models and ways of working. Brands require a more agile and consistently joined up approach to produce and implement their marketing assets and we are seeing smart marketers move to models where they consolidate or decouple their production needs with a specialist production agency with the necessary focus, scale, investment, technology and capabilities to deliver a faster and more efficient production solution.
One thing that’s clear is agency roles have changed considerably over the last few years. However, despite this, there will always be a vital role for creative agencies – focusing on strategic planning, creative thinking, idea generation and brand planning. An entirely complimentary role to that of the production agency!
Bring production specialists up-stream
Given the need to create and distribute ‘more for less’, it’s critical that production specialists are empowered to move upstream and recommend strategic production solutions at the time that ideas are being conceived and ‘prototyped’ rather than at the end of the creative process.
There are often many different approaches available for each campaign with budgets and outputs often varying significantly. We need to move away from single quotes or triple bids and instead adopt ‘triple pricing’, where clients have visibility and input into how their budgets are being calibrated to their specific marketing or business objectives.
We need to enable more balance between ‘creative’ and ‘efficiency’ when it comes to production planning and budgeting and ensure that both have an equal seat at the table. Whilst this balance will naturally fluctuate between campaigns, clients and sectors – the requirement of ‘more for less’ means that it is imperative that the creative idea is not the sole consideration.
Personalisation of digital creative
As an industry we’re kept on our toes by the latest in technological advancements. As digital technology rapidly evolves to become more automated, intelligent, and data-driven – we’re seeing the likes of programmatic take hold, yet there’s still a big gap when it comes to the creative. Personalisation has shown that a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to digital advertising doesn’t work with statistics across the board demonstrating that personalisation provides a better return on investment. But, put simply, brands are not leveraging their investment by creating personalised and targeted advertising through the power of dynamic creative.
For dynamic and personalised creative to be successful, media, creative and production agencies need to think jointly about their creative and media strategy as a whole and not as separate discussions. Production agencies with the technology and understanding of the platforms for delivering assets at scale or real time need to be present to bridge the gap and help create a streamlined workflow.
A shift from simple creative designs in Photoshop, now requires a more systematic approach that relies heavily on process, templates and technology, and in the case of DCO programming, also requires data integration. A key reason why programmatic creative has had such a slow uptake statistically in its use is the fact that incorporating data in advertising requires adding technical complexity into creative production workflow. It’s a completely different way of thinking about creative and this is where the production agency fits in and provides a bridge between data and creative.
So, what’s next?
The industry needs to knit together all elements across the advertising production chain, so they’re working for and not against each other. The objective is clear: speed to market, without sacrificing brand and production values, and quality of execution.
The triumvirate of creative strategy, media planning/buying and marketing implementation (production), all need to work hand in hand.