Agencies today are faced with the increasingly difficult task of winning new business. To create successful request for proposal (RFP) responses, agencies must bring together their most creative personnel as well their best and most strategic resources to formulate the winning pitch. The so-called Age of Big Data has however brought with it a number of new challenges agencies must overcome.

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Agencies now deal with larger volumes of content than ever before which can make relevant information difficult to locate. Agencies are also doing more business around the world, employee attrition rates are increasing, file types are evolving, and agency personnel are more mobile. In addition, the time window for successful RFP responses continues to shrink. More than ever employees need instant access to agency content.

To get an idea of how agencies are adapting to these challenges we asked seven experts the following questions:

Agencies today have a wealth of content at their disposal. How has your agency coped with the information overload?

As media platforms continue to evolve, what does the future hold for your industry?

We’ve collected and compiled their expert advice into this guide to help any ad agency access their content effectively. See what our experts said below:

MEET OUR PANEL OF AD AGENCY EXPERTS:

  • Alexandra Wood
  • Brian Cristiano
  • Andrew Darling
  • Brandon Bethea
  • Steve Radick
  • Allen Kay
  • Kathy Bloomgarden

ALEXANDRA WOOD

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Alexandra Wood is currently the Global Product Director for Havas Worldwide, one of the largest integrated marketing communications agencies in the world. In this capacity, Alexandra leads the team that drives growth and efficiency across Havas Worldwide’s global network through scalable digital product solutions. Prior to Havas Worldwide, Alexandra served in several different technology-enabled management roles, ranging from agency-side eCommerce platforms to in-house operations for a multi-billion dollar industrial supplier.

Agencies today have a wealth of content at their disposal. How has your agency coped with the information overload?

Saying the agencies – and by extension large organizations – are inundated with information is understatement. The sheer amount of content is overwhelming, and the constant need for newer, more relevant data only exacerbates the problem. Needless to say, the time spent wading through this sea of information costs time and impacts our bottom line.

We’re tackling this issue at Havas Worldwide by putting user-friendly systems in place to help people within our organization find the information they need, when they need it. These knowledge management and collaboration tools (shout out to Docurated!) help us in two ways: first, they help us easily manage the content we already have while avoiding the traditional cataloging and tagging systems of IT ghosts past. Second, they helps us avoid the damaging duplication of efforts that comes when people simply can’t find content relevant to them at any given time.

As media platforms continue to evolve, what does the future hold for your industry?

Our industry is finally coming to terms with the fact the we just can’t force people to do what they don’t want to do. Too many clicks to check out on your website? People will abandon their carts. App too difficult to understand? I’ll just delete it from my phone.

This renewed focus on user centric design has led to agencies create robust practices to serve their clients’ growing need for experience design expertise. And now, agencies are turning similar attention towards optimizing experiences for their internal users. If my crystal ball serves me right, agencies of the future will fully understand how creating easy-to-navigate systems that align with their users’ needs impacts their competitive advantage.


BRIAN CRISTIANO

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Brian Cristiano is the CEO and Creative Director of BOLD Worldwide, an agency for sports, CPG and passion brands. BOLD incorporates innovative technologies to leverage its services, and prides itself on working with brands that are an extension of the agency’s own passions.

Agencies today have a wealth of content at their disposal. How has your agency coped with the information overload?

It is paramount for agencies and clients to be on the forefront of technology and information, however becoming inundated with information and data can have a reverse effect by slowing down reaction time and marketing effectiveness. At BOLD, we use a state-of-the-art dashboard where we consolidate information and data we deem important to us and our clients. As better data becomes available we simply add it to the pipeline. This helps keep our company and clients focused on long-term goals while using these tools allows us to silence some of the noise.

As media platforms continue to evolve, what does the future hold for your industry?

The marketing industry as a whole will continue the consolidation of companies and services as media platforms continue to evolve, leaving only the most flexible and forward-thinking companies to rise to the top. Agencies that do not innovate will be left to close their doors. Innovation can come in many forms like: New services, better data and analytics, integration of technology and creative services.

BOLD has spent the last year intertwining technology as closely as we can to our creative process including the integration of an automated digital process to generate original and unique custom video emails. We are finding that the more we connect departments and resources the more our agency thrives as a whole.

There are a lot of fantastic agencies innovating on many different levels and I think we will see an explosion of niche services and products over the next 5-10 years. A lot of which of these services and products will piggyback off of new media platforms that arise from the tech sector.


ANDREW DARLING

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Andrew Darling is Director of Global MArketing at TBG – a global digital agency focused on driving measurable performance from new channels. Data is at the heart of everything TBG do. By measuring tangible value, TBG’s media and creative services can build the right connections, enable meaningful advocacy and move the metrics that matter to each brand’s business.

TBG offers an end-to-end solution including social strategy, content creation, application builds, paid media and measurement. TBG works closely with Facebook and Twitter to develop products and services that drive tangible ROI from social media.

TBG have offices in London, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Hamburg, Amsterdam and Manila

Agencies today have a wealth of content at their disposal. How has your agency coped with the information overload?

Depending on what you mean by ‘wealth of content available’? Yes we have massive amounts of social data available to us for our social analytics and media planning purposes but this is a good thing for us. In response to the arrival of ‘big data’, we have built a team of developers who are focused on delivering data query engines for the social media analysts to use. We access the big data pipes from FB, Twitter etc in the usual ‘firehose’ way so the only way we can make meaningful use of this data is to build these query engines which enable us to rationalise this data into interpretable formats.

As media platforms continue to evolve, what does the future hold for your industry?

For TBG Digital, which is a full service digital agency focused on helping brands make money from new channels, the arrival of new platforms and the evolution of existing ones can only be good for us. We position ourselves as a services agency helping advertising brands make sense of new social media platforms and as a consequence, we are constantly looking at the ‘next stage of the curve’ I.e how will wearable connected devices impact advertising?
More broadly, we are operating in an industry where the only thing you can rely rely on is that the rate of change will get faster and faster. Therefore, the challenge for agencies like ourselves is to maintain our commitment to identifying new trends and interpreting how these will affect our clients.


BRANDON BETHEA

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Brandon is Chief Conversion Officer at Sq1. Brandon and his teams push the latest technologies in audience targeting, media optimization, creative testing and digital analytics to maximize ecommerce and retail sales.

Brandon has spent the past 15 years specifically focused on developing and expanding the Conversion Optimization practice. His previous role as Global Director of Optimization at Wunderman/WPP allowed him to build strategic marketing platforms to drive sales on a global scale. Brandon is now working to bring these world-class programs to clients of all sizes.

Throughout his career, Brandon has been an advocate of Behavioral Targeting and A/B Testing in order to methodically prove what motivates consumer behavior and drives immediate action. Brandon passionately believes in merging all forms of marketing research with the new developing tracking technologies in order to define a new type of integrated marketing platform.

His work has provided millions of dollars in incremental revenue for clients such as Verizon, Nokia, Time Warner, Dish Network, Direct Energy, Michaels, Wholly Guacamole and many more.

Brandon holds a B.A. in Marketing and holds numerous professional certifications in website analytics, multivariate testing and predictive analytics

Agencies today have a wealth of content at their disposal. How has your agency coped with the information overload?

With the evolution of big data technologies, marketers from all verticals and disciplines are struggling makes sense of all the new vendors and the endless amount of consumer engagement data. In order to make this data and content actionable, Sq1 has integrated several technologies and methodologies to form our S.M.A.R.T. System (Science-driven Marketing Activation & Real-Time Testing). This unique approach allows our teams to compile all data and content into a simple narrative based on the customer experience.

As media platforms continue to evolve, what does the future hold for your industry?

As new media technologies emerge and marketing programs adapt, the industry as a whole will quickly evolve to focus on the fully connected customer experience. It will be challenging for marketers to integrate and manage all of the various technology and service partners needed to accomplish a fully connected program. For this reason, Sq1 has built a proprietary technology integration platform called Adaptive Audience to easily evaluate, activate and optimize marketing programs.


STEVE RADICK

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Steve Radick is Vice President, Associate Director of Public Relations atCramer-Krasselt. Steve spent the last eight years at Booz Allen Hamilton, a huge management consulting firm where he created and implemented communications strategies for clients across the federal government. From the hallways of the Pentagon to the secure offices of the intelligence community and now to the Windy City, Steve believes in the power of technology to connect people with other people and bring the “relations” back to public relations.

Steve started and authors the Social Media Strategery blog atsteveradick.com where he blogs about social media, public relations, and leadership. In 2009, he was named one of PRNews’ 15 to Watch and currently serves on the advisory boards for the SmartBrief on Social Media, and Governing people.com.

Agencies today have a wealth of content at their disposal. How has your agency coped with the information overload?

Agencies have always had a wealth of content. Instead of blogs, Tweets, and videos, we had books and newspapers, TV and radio. The difference now is that the barrier to entry has been lowered to practically nothing. Rather than spending the time and energy to create content that will solve a problem or add value in some way, agencies can now crank out tons of content that is distributed across multiple channels at a very low cost. Quantity has trumped quality. We’ve entered a content marketing arms race. In this world of 1% clickthrough rates and 2% organic reach, the agencies that help their clients focus their time and money on creating content that solves customer problems rather than maximizing likes, will be the ones that succeed.

As media platforms continue to evolve, what does the future hold for your industry?

You’re going to continue to see a race to the edges. The larger media platforms – social and traditional – will continue to follow the money and cater more and more to big brands and agencies willing to spend the big dollars. The social networks will continue to sign $100M deals with agencies while the more mainstream media will inevitably embrace more native advertising. And, as consumers have done throughout history, they will continue to try and avoid this advertising as much as they can. As the big media platforms become more like advertising outposts, smaller niche platforms focused on a singular topic or function will flourish on the other end of the spectrum. The conversations and relationships that were once the hallmarks of Facebook and Twitter will migrate to smaller networks. Impartial editorial that was once the bastion of the mainstream media will again find a home in hyper-local blogs and niche magazines and newspapers. Well, that is, until the marketers show up there too…


ALLEN KAY

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Allen Kay is the founder and former CEO of Korey Kay & Partners Advertising. Allen now works as an independent consultant specializing in “Iconic Branding.” Known for establishing such brands as Virgin Atlantic Airways, Wynn Resorts, Comedy Central, Stuart Weitzman and Celebrity Cruises, Allen also created the only global anti-terrorism campaign, “If you see something, say say something.”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allen_Kay,
IconicBranding_AllenKayallen@allenSkay.com917-699-2602.

Agencies today have a wealth of content at their disposal. How has your agency coped with the information overload?

Just like I tell my kids, “A place for everything and everything in it’s place.”

As media platforms continue to evolve, what does the future hold for your industry?

There is too much media proliferation already. Messages are spread too thin to be effective. Media manageability will become the watchword. LIke in all overcrowded industries there will be a shake out – lots more merging and submerging. Only the smartest and strongest will survive, making life easier for everyone.


 

KATHY BLOOMGARDEN

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Kathy Bloomgarden is the CEO of Ruder Finn, one of the largest global independent communications consultancies in the world. In her more than 30 years of experience, Kathy has developed communications programs to help shape reputation for a wide range of clients, including Novartis, Citi and Microsoft. Under Kathy’s leadership, Ruder Finn opened one of the first global communications offices in China over 25 years ago and launched Ruder Finn Innovation Studios (RFI), one of the industry’s largest dedicated digital teams. For more information, visit www.ruderfinn.com and whatsnext.ruderfinn.com.

Agencies today have a wealth of content at their disposal. How has your agency coped with the information overload?

Today’s society is experiencing an explosion of information, but communications professionals can break through the clutter by understanding where consumers get their information, as well as who are the public figures and personal connections that influence them. Ruder Finn’s approach leverages data and analytics that empower us to observe and target specific audiences. By understanding who we want to reach and appealing to what is personally relevant for them, we can demonstrate why a brand or product is right for the individual. Whether it’s to try something new, meet needs today or fulfill aspirations, we aim to link to our audience’s personal experience in way that also stimulates a viral dialogue.

As media platforms continue to evolve, what does the future hold for your industry?

From mobile platforms to Internet-based outlets and blogs, the media industry is experiencing a perpetual transformation. Today, with nearly 3 billion people globally using the Internet*, we are truly a part of a milestone moment in which the way we reach target audiences is completely changing. We must constantly disrupt ourselves and try new approaches. With so many new technologies, marketing and communications professionals will find innovative new ways to connect with audiences on behalf of brands – through new interactive platforms, connected marketing and advertising and socially-generated content. As the industry continues to place a great emphasis on content, storytelling will continue to be an important element of every meaningful campaign of the future. At Ruder Finn, we’ve refined and expanded our capabilities to provide socially relevant content, brand reputation and executive thought leadership platforms to drive impactful results and share our clients’ stories.

*Source: International Telecommunication Union. “The World in 2014: ICT Facts and Figures.”http://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Statistics/Documents/facts/ICTFactsFigures2014-e.pdf

Written by Cóbhan Phillipson