TJ Lightwala, head of Future Adaptive Specialist Team (FAST) and Performance, Mindshare MENA, spells out the real meaning of innovation in today’s media landscape
Innovation is often referred to in the context of cool, new pieces of technology which, in some way, shape or form utility and overall value, which ought to help both, demand and supply. But, is this really the case and is it enough? Innovation, to me, means two things as of today: adaptability to dramatically change the landscape, and establishing what ‘value’ means in this changing landscape.
As target audiences, not only are we constantly served information, but also have unlimited access to all sorts of news and updates in real-time. It’s no surprise then that brands are fighting for their fair share of attention. Which means that as agencies, our approach to our clients’ business needs to change from one-to-one communications with independent teams to an integration of cross-functional talent serving client focus. It’s a combinatory effect of integrated performance specialists and brand strategists with planners, to advise, manage and drive business to eventually attain a share of attention within the audience set. When done right, this approach serves for better and targeted communications to audiences, dynamically based on context. For instance, at Mindshare, we have adopted FAST (Future Adaptive Specialist Team) to ensure a 360 approach to client outcomes by putting an integrated performance unit at the heart of the business.
Next, and equally crucial, are the people who form the new agency model. Conversations with clients have now extended beyond media buying and best trading value to finding solutions for business challenges and delivering ROI. As clients’ business landscape changes, so do agencies’ talent requirements. There is now a great need for up-skilling talent in the areas of programming, marketing sciences, data and analytics. We are in the business of outcomes – creating and driving a roadmap for business transformation; essentially serving as consultants and practitioners of our craft.
There is no war on talent; it’s merely survival of the fittest.
The worlds of value and innovation are merging. Innovation, in itself, is valuable, and value in the new agency model is riding on the heels of innovation. The subject of value is broad; technologies are constantly permeating the ecosystem; and IT, marketing, business intelligence, and finance together are the steering committee bringing the value of the platform, technology, data, strategic inputs, and monetary responsibility into the project. This is innovation in its workable form.
There are three key points inspiring the confluence of value and innovation:
In a world hungry for quick wins, constant consolidation of media and complementary partners, rapid transformative technologies, more and more programmatic and AI powering faster algorithms, creative and data merging in value, the one thing that remains constant is adaptation and innovation. So, by all means, innovate. But, don’t forget the human touch and personality – that’s the key differentiator. As GroupM’s chief innovation officer, Cary Tilds, puts it, when asked what’s the next big thing, “Human Beings”.