We are making history. The past month or so we have seen an unprecedented number of advertisers go to pitch. Globally this is adding up to north of $20 billion in media spend that will be decided over the new few months. These include world-class brands the likes of P&G, GSK, Unilever, Mondelez, Sony, Coke, to name just a few.
So what the heck is going on right now? Never before in the advertising and media worlds have we seen so much spend on the line, all happening at the same time. What are these brands looking for that they feel aren’t being delivered right now?
There’s no easy answer to this, but there seem to be some guiding themes that are driving these decisions.
The shift of budgets online will only continue to grow more prominent. And I think there’s still a feeling of ‘digital deficiency’ among some of these brands, particularly in the CPG categories. A feeling that we haven’t pushed digital hard enough and haven’t fully digitised our brands and organisations as fast as we should. Mobile is a classic example. Particularly in Asia, where we live within a ‘mobile-first’ culture, are brands taking enough action to ensure they produce a mobile friendly environment for their consumers. In most cases the answer is no.
Similarly, within the programmatic space, are brands fully maximising the opportunity to target audiences and use data to deliver brand experiences in a real-time way. For some, they may be doing this well, but for most, they are just starting this journey. And the brands that are going to pitch are putting on their efficiency hats and asking how we can scale up programmatic in a way that drives down our media spends, at the same time ensuring we deliver our performance goals, which are becoming more and more aggressive.
Along the thread of programmatic, another area I see as being of high interest is in the space of marketing automation. As an industry, we now have the tools available to us to run most of our campaigns through machines. According to a 2014 report by 9Clouds, 78 per cent of successful marketers claim that marketing automation is their biggest factor in increasing sales. And within this industry we’ve seen a ton of consolidation by players like Adobe, Kenshoo, Google and others, who are working to provide an end-to-end platform for brands to manage and automate all of their campaigns across search, social, display, content and more.
A focus on data and analytics is another common theme we see. 90 per cent of the pitches I have personally worked on the past year, have had a strong component of data and analytics in them. Brands asking how they can better understand their data and take action on it in real-time is a critical ask. Even simply having easy access to their data in a single, consolidated view is what they want at a fundamental level. And using today’s data to predict what tomorrow will look like is their holy grail. A Forrester report highlighted that 71 per cent of marketers want some sort of predictive analytics right now.
Finally, I’m seeing a need by marketers to want their content and media to work more closely together. How can the data we collect from media and from real-time insights help influence the content we create. The ability to develop fast, rich and engaging content in various forms, based on what the data tells us will be more and more important for brands. And agencies that have capabilities to develop data-led content will be the ones who come out on top.
This is a turning point for us. And it will continue to turn as brands put increasing pressure on agencies to automate, to help them digitise their business and to be scientific in the use of data to help target audiences better while creating more relevant content, all with an underbelly of being efficient with spends.