While various companies are still looking at real time marketing as the future of the communication business, for ZenithOptimedia (ZO), the future is some portion of what keeps the agency busy at present. A result of the company’s move to the Live ROI platform a year ago, ZO is able to already engage media and consumers on real time basis. “If you look at cases such as online or search, it is about real time bidding, effectively executing media buys in microseconds and finally responding to how people consume media in real time,” stated Steve King, Global CEO, ZenithOptimedia, and added, “We are not doing it across all categories and in scale, but we are doing it. As more media becomes addressable, you would find a big change in the way media is consumed and interpreted, and we would expand our real time measurement offer in line with that, for the benefit of our clients.”
ZenithOptimedia embraced the positioning of ‘the ROI (return on investment) agency’ around eight years ago. In 2012, the company’s philosophy evolved to adopt Live ROI. For King, the ROI positioning has been “incredibly successful” for the agency. “It is ubiquitous and it has given us direction, focus and a point of differentiation. People associate us with this proposition now. It is otherwise very difficult for any agency to own the space that it says it stands for. We then decided to enliven this by giving this the ‘Live ROI’ insight. While it is still work in progress, it is giving us a clear direction of where we have to go in the future,” explained King.
Live ROI is built on three key components – active understanding which is essentially about using data and insights to understand consumers; dynamically engaging by serving or distributing relevant, compelling content to consumers and finally, real time measurement and response to this messaging. For King, it is these three pillars that define the agency’s future direction.
“This is much more of an iterative development than one way push messaging. The more we share this, the more we grow. More importantly this is something that clients believe is going to help them. It doesn’t mean we have all the solutions. But it has given our agency energy, sense of direction and it has been embraced by all our stakeholders – clients and staff alike,” added King.
Asia can lead the way
The agency has seen an important change in its Asia Pacific operations with the appointment of Gerry Boyle as the Chairman for the region. As Boyle is gearing up to take on the new role, King believes that this appointment is going to be vital for ZO’s APAC operations. He said, “Gerry’s particular skill-set is deep, strategic understanding of partnership with clients. He brings a real focus on the product and one of his core skills is business development. Those skills would really help us in terms of clients, because clients demand deeper partnership. Reckitt Benckiser, for instance, does not see us as a transactional partner – our relationship runs much deeper than that.”
King observed that Asia is the “most challenging, dynamic and competitive market”. He said, “We have been a pioneer in Asia and we need to have robust leadership with strong resources to succeed in the region.”
Asia is also the region, which King believes will be home to future centres of excellence in digital for ZO. “Digital is almost intuitive to consumers in this market. While Asia Pacific cannot be categorised as one region because there are very few common characteristics between the different markets here, we are seeing the accelerated use of mobile happening at a faster rate in many markets here. There is an exponential growth in mobile devices, including smartphones, which is serving not only as an advertising medium but also as a platform for receiving content, distributing content, for ecommerce or cashless payments, or a device of connecting or sharing with friends.”
For King, the marketing world had misunderstood how a mobile device would be leveraged and the industry has been slow in reacting to the growth of mobile, but he believes that Asia will lead some of the activities in this domain. “We will see some Asian markets leading our global digital practice, and mobile is a good example of that,” said King.
ZO’s next areas of growth would come from geography, data, scope of assignment and content. In terms of geography, even as BRIC continues to be focus, and hence India and China are important markets apart from Australia for the agency, the next set of markets will becomes important for “different reasons”. “I believe we are doing too many things on a silo basis. We must see how we can get different markets to collaborate with each other and share our capabilities and services in a much more fluid way,” said King.