In the past, communications planning followed a very linear process: there was kind of a relay race happening between the various constituencies. They were briefed separately and in a specific sequence. They operated in isolation and the scope of each was defined by the decisions of the preceding level in the pecking order. Like consumers, though, the industry evolves. New thinking and practices are redefining processes and strategies to increase the effectiveness of reaching a given target audience.
Today, the industry has undergone a transformation whereby the “communications experts” now amass all the disciplines involved in the planning process in an account team, collectively making holistic decisions that are better informed and more impactful for a brand than previously. In a way, we have gone full circle back to the one-stop shop, yet with specialist know-how we have gleaned since the break-up of full-service agencies in the 1990s. This convergence of specialized talents under a single unit brings about the next level of communications (comms) planning.
Few companies today still start their communication planning from the “we have this product/service to offer”point. Rather, they seek from the onset the consumer insights that drive the overall product, distribution, positioning and marketing strategies. In essence, clients provide the “supply” side of a service or a good, and it is up to the integrated communication approach to match or even exceed that supply with the right “demand”. The glue between these two venerable economic phenomena is content. A content strategy that revolves around the specific intersection of brand offering and customer need is what builds the coveted brand engagement.
All parties, including advanced analytics, specialized digital marketing services, brand strategy, innovations and branded content, are brought to the table at the initial briefing stage so that they contribute to the decision-making process of what is required to create the most effective campaign. This ultimately leads to a solution that brings the best of both worlds; it not only relies on the full integration of all entities involved in the decision-making process, but also benefits from the increased empowerment of each specialist discipline.
In order to achieve true integration, internal communication is critical to the success of a campaign. Agencies have reorganized themselves around this new decision-making structure so that revenue segregation provides the appropriate incentives for accountability and responsibility to each entity involved. But, today, that is not enough: the segregation of revenue – catalyzed out of specialization needs – creates unhealthy friction between the various units of an agency. To create seamlessly integrated campaigns, agencies must adhere to the specialization needs while maintaining a singular goal of capturing revenue as a whole. Only then will each specialist contribute to the greater good of the campaign derived from his or her respective faction.
The recent focus on creating engagement through content has reshaped the way brands connect with consumers. The role of comms planning has had to expand to drive deeper levels of engagement through new avenues. The lines are no longer blurred; they are simply eliminated – as is the case with native advertising, for example. The ability of an agency to adapt lies in seamless channel management, as well as a rich and healthy relationship with media publishers and partners. It also involves being creatively agile, seeing beyond the traditional and big ideas to come up with something relevant that captures the buzz of a momentous occasion in real time. During the football frenzy of this summer, our social media team produced a relatively simple Promoted Trend for a leading brand on Twitter that barely involved any production budget at all (less than AED50 of supplies and an iPhone), but the ensuing engagement rates were phenomenal. The tweet garnered over 3.34 million impressions and broke the MENA Trend Engagement Rate record with 34.9 per cent, a jump of 11.4 per cent from the previous record (held by an adjacent brand in the same portfolio).
In a world of economic, consumer and media transformation, how to best use communications to improve business performance is a complex, high-stakes challenge. It’s easy to get lost in the details. Agencies need a new operating system, one that reflects the changing market realities and that provides agility in response to challenges, regardless of market sophistication and/or brand cycle. Vision, our new digitally integrated global operating system, incorporates state-of-the-art resources and systems to give real-time access to clients and teams and facilitate collaborative work methods across disciplines. It helps clients get more than just buying media space and rather invest in their brands and businesses instead, thereby focusing on delivering business growth.
This transformation is made possible through the availability of data and analytics, allowing us to frame situations with more clarity. The first step to harnessing the power of data is acknowledging that perfect information from this region will not exist in the foreseeable future. Therefore, our goal should be to use the information we have to validate what we currently know and test our hypotheses, so that we can then move forward with more confidence. When one per cent of a media budget allocated to advanced analytics gives 10 percent in extra mileage, it is clear this is a trend that will keep growing. Analytics will increasingly be at the heart of our strategies.
As strategies change and our planning process evolves towards increasing precision, it is evident that the utility gained from silo-ed data is limited; fusing disparate data is essential to gain a multiplier effect in terms of results. Agencies need to let go of data ownership and focus on its utility instead. Using it properly is what matters. Consumers are evolving by the second and, chances are, you are already outdated. Solid relationships need to be the foundational value between clients and agencies, evolving from the current “vendor tender” format that is very limiting and that fails to activate the synergies that exist between the two partners.
The mathematical equations used by procurement to assess the value of relationships need to take into account the people, culture and transformational power of their partners. It must go beyond only the tangibles.
App analytics and market data company, App Annie, have released a new report that sheds light on Gen Z’s mobile behavior, in order to help marketers develop effective strategies to reach them. 98% of Gen Z report owning a smartphone, on average receiving their first at the age of 10. They are also part of […]
Experticity, the world’s largest community of influential category experts have released a new study that sheds new light on the importance of micro-influencers on the average consumer. The study was conducted with online interviews of more than 6,000 individuals from the United States drawn from Experticity’s micro-influencer network and the general population. In addition, more […]
Market research companies eMarketer and Global Web Index have collaborated together to release the 10th edition of the global media intelligence report. The report is a detailed compilation of data and insights about internet users’ traditional and digital media usage in 42 key markets worldwide. Communicate will be highlighting the key trends that are shaping the […]
Social Bakers, a global AI-powered social media marketing company has released the Q3 edition of their social media trends report. The report reveals where the industry is currently standing with regard to spending and engagement globally. Here are the key findings – ADVERTISING Worldwide ad spend increased by 56.4% in Q3 compared to where it […]