In this guest post, John McNerney, senior director, platforms APAC at Yahoo, explains how your business can keep ahead of the game.
When I think about the current state of the digital world, and where brands and agencies fit in, I can’t help but recall the movie Speed. For those who haven’t seen it, the premise involves a bus full of passengers threatened by a bomb that will explode if its speed drops below 50 miles per hour.
I’m reminded of this action flick for two reasons. Firstly, in the marketing world right now, it feels like we constantly have to move very fast in order to keep up with the pace of technology. And secondly, as in the movie, success in defusing the bomb – metaphorical in our case – depends on teamwork and resourcefulness.
Unlike Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock, we might not exactly be in mortal peril, but we are currently faced with many challenges. There’s a high level of churn and attrition in the market, and with the current talent crisis, partners are increasingly expected to fill the knowledge gaps for their agencies.
To the talent shortage, we can also add strained budgets and the slow pace of upskilling. Net result: the fast-moving digital world is passing a lot of us by.
There is some sunlight piercing the clouds. In the last few years, we’ve begun to see technology that was the preserve of the well-resourced few, becoming available to the masses. And this tech is removing time and budget wastage all whilst providing innovative solutions for marketers. We’ve also watched the convergence of traditional and digital agencies, and most importantly, we’ve seen a rise in collaboration between partners.
And I believe it’s partnerships between agencies and clients – and the knowledge shared between them – that need the most attention today. The digital landscape isn’t going to stop evolving, and many other challenges we face will linger. Ultimately though, we’re more likely to thrive together.
Wanted: jacks of all trades
As the saying goes, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’, and neither are new marketing capabilities.
Agencies need to keep pace with what clients expect, which can be hard when expectations and consumer behaviours are evolving. This means businesses need to upskill their staff so they can blaze a trail through the uncharted territory of new channels and technologies.
This is never going to be accomplished simply by flicking a switch. For example, at Yahoo, it took us about two and a half years to help educate key industry stakeholders around Digital Out of Home (DOOH) and the value of programmatic.
We knew internally that DOOH technology, particularly audience tracking, had made great evolutionary leaps. We had the ability to measure conversions throughout the funnel like never before, yet without the knowledge of how it worked, how could agencies expect clients to dive in headfirst?
Recognising this, we took it upon ourselves to play the role of teacher. Although it was a slow process, the returns eventually came, and programmatic is now one of the biggest channels in our buying platform.
When new digital technologies emerge, it creates both challenges and opportunities for agencies. Maximising potential requires a step change from media teams who have historically worked with mediums like TV and radio.
Agencies succeed when their strategy and planning teams educate brands about what they can do for them. Businesses that can enable that kind of cross-pollination between traditional and digital teams will also be fostering much-needed professional development.
It is now crucial to have that knowledge and resourcefulness. Clients are expecting agencies to master every channel because they need them to identify where their audiences are and how they can target them. And if you don’t know, you can’t answer that question.
One is lonely, but two’s a strategy.
With all the technology now at our fingertips, you would think partnering up to create effective work would be fairly straightforward? Well, as we’ve often learnt the hard way, getting it right takes time, effort and no short amount of patience.
I can confidently say the changes happening in our landscape can’t be tackled alone. Adaptation and agility are traits more easily realised when businesses lean on partners that know the technology, platforms, and what the data is trying to tell you.
By removing silos within teams and leaning into internal education, agencies can really start to help clients make solid gains. And more importantly, keep that ‘bomb under the bus’ from going off.
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