The history of advertising started with Creative Agencies and Media placement was not such a complicated task as there were very few media channels in Print and in TV. So traditionally advertising was more about creating the message than placing it.
As media channels grew the complexities of media planning came into picture and thereby the growth and stature of large media agencies came into being. Today media agencies are larger both in size and revenues than creative agencies. Digital advertising came to the fore almost a decade ago where the agencies were again not split into media and creative and the concept of full service agencies was in picture. But as digital advertising grew in India the mainline media agencies saw opportunity to capitalize on the growth of this new media and expand their prowess across online media channel as well.
Digital media by virtue of having several platforms has always had many websites, mobile sites and apps that one could advertise on and hence media planning was always a specialized task in Digital. Creative too was unique as it was not about one creative format but many formats in social, banners, website and also about multiple messages.
Today many clients have different agencies handling their digital media spends and their digital and social creatives. But unlike mainline advertising which follows an assembly line model where a creative is first made, then approved and then released; Digital Advertising is a whole different game.
Digital has grown into a medium where multiple creatives get uploaded across multiple platforms and the feedback is in realtime. The media spend on these creative also is not static in nature like mainline spends. In print ads or in TV one blocks spaces or spots and that’s a fixed buy, but in Digital one can be flexible to an extent where one can even test a creative for a small budget before deploying more spends on it. For more inventories on search and social, which forms 50% or more of online inventory, the buys are ongoing and not fixed.
The kind of nimbleness possible and demanded for a great campaign on digital requires a hybrid thinking when it comes media and creative. The traditional divide of media and creative duties being separate is not only detrimental to digital success but also creates unnecessary wastage of time in approvals and communication which could have been saved and invested in making decisions.
Though different agencies give the edge of perceived specialization, what it takes away from integrated thinking is loss enough which in turn never helps the campaign.
For digital advertising success today what is needed is a hybrid thinking wherein creative ideators, media specialist and technologists work hand in hand on one table to crack the brief. This can be achieved most efficiently if your agency is a hybrid agency which has these three specialists sitting together.
The challenge is also to get them to work together and agree with each other but that’s an operational challenge. The bigger challenge is that very few agencies can boast of understanding media as well as creative as well as technology. Most agencies have strengths and they play to their strengths. True hybrid full service offerings are rare to find. One of the challenges I face is at WATConsult is to continuously upgrade each of the creative, media and tech teams and to ensure that they collaborate seamlessly together rather than working in an assembly line fashion.
I truly believe the future of advertising is digital and within digital, it is integrated thinking. Compartmentalization of social, media, creative, data analytics, technology etc only creates complicated team structures that hinder true collaboration and speed of delivery. Specialization without isolation is what is needed in digital and that will only come when people start thinking hybrid. It is when a creative thinks media strategy as well while a media guy understands creative mindset and when technologists think beyond code and think advertising. This kind of cross thinking is possible more and more when these different people collaborate more and more.
(The author is Founder and CEO, WATConsult)