Did you love B&T’s one-on-one with OMG supremo Peter Horgan yesterday? Well, if you missed it you can re-cap all the news here. Not that it should stop you enjoying today’s second instalment, as we continue the chat with one of the industry’s most intuitive brains…
What’s your thoughts on the looming threat of Amazon, particularly as it relates to on-platform advertising?
It still feels like it’s a long way off yet. However, where customer understanding meets transaction, that is an incredibly powerful proposition. So instinctively you know that’s going to be successful. You’ve seen overseas it’s going to be successful. So it’s only a matter of time.
[Amazon] are very cautious in how they are engaging and that’s leading to some frustrations, as there’s big opportunities here. Of course, they’ve also had a bit of a false start to their local recruitment.
Sir Martin Sorrell’s continual critiquing of his former industry is not particularly helpful?
No, but I think people take it with a pinch of salt.
Is he like a reformed smoker?
Yes and quite self-serving as well. I’m the new path having been the old path until a year ago. There are so many naysayers in this industry it’s almost a case of take a ticket and await your turn.
But the challenges are very real, Arthur Sadoun said the industry needed to stop selling CDs and become a streaming service. How do you see the challenge?
What we’re faced with is within the constraints of a low margin business, we’re having to retool, maintain the capability of execution whilst building higher end capability in tech and data consultancy.
It’s like changing from a propeller plane to a jet in midflight. The key is the link between those two disciplines.
To that end, Accenture’s getting into execution with their own programmatic build out. I hear in the whole of APAC they still only have one or two people, but they’ll get there, and they’ve got deep pockets. But execution is our backyard, so we’re ready for the fight.
However it’s important for us [agencies] to get impartiality back, and rebuild trust. We need to prove we’re able to look at broadcast top of funnel through to lower funnel digital hyper-targeted conversion.
The interplay there is where the magic is. Yes, it’s fuelled by data and tech expertise where the Accentures of this world will be incredibly strong. They will be strong in pockets of execution. However, you need to understand the interplay through the funnel. That means, you need to be able to [suck it up] in broadcast because you are, literally, breaking even in that area. You need fleets of experts who are able to assemble TV buys or press buys. It’s still very line-by-line, although that will change.
It’s the same with the walled gardens. None of these platforms are powerful enough to close the loop in their own right. And you need someone to help you navigate how you show up to customers across a customer’s journey, across multiple platforms.
As people are starting to understand the power of their own customer data, there’s going to be more walled gardens, not less. And it’s only people like us who are able to string that narrative together across all those distinct and discreet environments who can help their clients realise the return on their marketing dollar.
So we like a complex landscape. The navigators are valuable.
Conversely, there will be those businesses that go: that’s too much business risk because that sounds quite grown up and so we’re not letting a silly agency take care of that. Again, it’s where agency is a dangerous descriptor for us as we’re moving into consultancy capability.
So some clients will bring data led execution inhouse and it will be incredibly expensive and it’ll have executive sponsorship, which may or may not go well for a year, until people realise they don’t want to work in a bank or sell nothing but credit cards and leave and then suddenly the tech will be six months out of date and sliding.
I think that’s where the old agency model is broken, but the consultancy/executional model is not broken. I think as it gets more complex, the need for the kind of expertise that we can bring to the table is profound and profitable. It’s on us to prove it.