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Guest column: 2016: Movement towards Solutions Neutrality is helping forge new partnerships, new skills: Rabe Iyer, Motivator

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Guest column: 2016: Movement towards Solutions Neutrality is helping forge new partnerships, new skills: Rabe Iyer, Motivator

Rabe Iyer, Managing Director, Motivator, on how Solutions Neutrality is a neutral and open approach to building solutions to marketing objectives that are not limited to conventional media strategies and the key industry trends in the coming year                                                                       

Year 2016 has been transformative for those early trend spotters. Our current client portfolio is a fair mix of progressive traditional businesses and new age start-ups, a fair mix of leaders and challengers in their respective categories. Basis working on these clients and new wins, 2016 has been fast paced, very exciting given the depth and width of interventions we got to work on.

We could say, in this year we and even some part of the industry got closer to delivering Solutions Neutrality (let’s call it that way to distinguish it from media neutral approach) than we were any year before. Solutions neutrality has become far too critical when you put the business/brand/consumer understanding at the heart of building effective strategies. This simply means a neutral and open approach to building solutions to marketing objectives that are not limited to conventional media strategies and channels often laid by creative partner-creative unit mix alone.                                             

The growth factors

The key growth drivers would be  the expansion of additionally paid scope of services, led largely by digital integration of services (Creative, Native, Social, Tech, Performance Marketing, Programmatic, Digital Paid etc ), Content Integration - Offline Online, CRM, Measurement Initiatives and Outcome attribution modeling, it has been so for us. The growth in that sense has not just been monetary but a strong used case asset build up for the mid and long term. This movement towards Solutions Neutrality is helping forge new partnerships, new skills, and attract young and diverse talent. This perhaps makes 2016 the leap year for those nimble players in our industry.

Notable challenges

Many key challenges exist despite the growth and evolution; like third party measurement of digital media, effective impact measurement of content on businesses and unified measurement of media channels. We believe this can be overcome by coming together with partners and industry bodies, BARC is a great example. The industry ecosystem needs to evolve faster to accommodate these changes, much faster than the speed at which urban India is going cashless.

Key trends of 2016

It’s getting more complex

Expectations are now not just efficiency but also ROMO (return on marketing objectives)

Clients are not limiting KPIs to efficiency alone through better pricing and plan optimisation, but are expanding it to include return and rate of return on business. We see ROMO becoming a key parameter to measure input efficiencies. This view is shaping up largely through start-ups (data rich clients) who encourage a strong measurement culture to understand return quotient of initiatives. With strong used cases, this is fueling the remaining progressive clients to move towards measurement and ROMO orientation. For perspective, there has been a 400 per cent increase in our agency's used cases for outcome oriented strategies as opposed to output only tactics. We envisage such would be the case for the industry as well, clearly putting in evolution input to outcome measurement standards and know how versus input to output metrics that have been around for more than three decades.

ROMO orientation: Impacts traditional media practice

We also see a clear influence of this effect on TV planning practice where scores of used cases are getting generated. Thanks to a number of third party tech and digital media players, synchronising TV and digital initiatives is creating lots of framework testing projects besides outcome measurement applications. Working with lots of data partners, it’s also observed that a lot of their products are being reframed to solve media related challenges synchronising, aligning, linking, meshing offline and online activations.

Race to own central client relationship

Another evident trend is every participant in the Client Service Industry is pushing hard to own the central client relationship as an opportunity to not only drive growth, but also to build new skills and services and be future ready. The initiatives by “Media Agency Industry" is perhaps far outpacing other competitors in the running to conquer the relationship.

Corporate marcom finally embraces digital, albeit slower than consumers

Another big movement is the digital embrace; more and more clients, who were fence sitters, are jumping into embracing digital wholeheartedly, not just for conventional awareness build up but for plugging leakages innovatively across the consumer pathway, mobile seems to be leading the pack, at least for us.

These are some key strategic "staring at your face" trends this year, making this year a Leap Year:

The Future

Failing start ups are not non performers

Owing to a lot of start-ups not making it from commercial point of view, significant talent is moving and our industry and clients can significantly gain from them. They will help fuel the output to outcome measurement scope and argument. Even though currently it could be limited more to behavioral measures, we see this advancing to more data oriented through the line attribution models scaling across clients. 

Taking controlled measured risks

We see more clients taking the testing framework route to take small, well defined, measured and controlled risks to understand input to outcome hypothesis that could completely alter approaches to delivering marketing objectives. 

Programmatic to go beyond digital

We expect programmatic to take a leap within the coming 24 months crossing the digital barrier to other media especially TV firms like Amagi and many more such have great potential. 

New practices would mature

Content, performance media, offline online linkages and synapses are already maturing and are expected to significantly alter and even fragment the creative agency role. 

Future could be ours (the new and expanded  Industry)

We see the future as complex, refined, data and measurement driven, giving our industry an opportunity to play a vital role in business performance, brand building and richer consumer engagement, like we already are beginning to experience.

(The author is Managing Director, Motivator)

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of


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