Digital is the way forward, or as WPP’s CEO, Sir Martin Sorrell says, it is the third wave in advertising, the other two being the ‘Big Idea’ and the consolidation of media planning and media buying functions. The writing on the wall is clear, across the globe. The degree may vary, though.
Agrees Subhash Kamath, CEO, Bates David Enterprise, “This will herald a huge transformation of sorts for the advertising business.” More agencies are recognising the importance of digital and aligning themselves to this new way of doing business by creating independent outfits and identities. <b1>
The WPP group has launched WPP Digital, as an independent entity with a separate brief, to act as a catalyst for change—on new technology and media—within the group. WPP’s recipe for the digital age, says Sorrell, “means the application of technology in an extremely sophisticated way to the new media industry, including direct, interactive and internet. I feel we have reacted pretty well to the convergence and will grow organically as a result.” Organic growth has come from Wunderman, OgilvyOne, RMG Connect and G2, all WPP entities, leading to $2.3 billion in revenues in the direct, interactive and internet areas (see box with Martin Sorrell’s comments).
“To these entities,” Sorrell states, “there is a common message: though they are digitally strong, they are not digital enough. There is a constant need for them to embrace newer technologies, not only in the western markets, but also in the other markets across the globe.”
Closer home too, big and small agencies are jumping into the fray to be a part of this global phenomenon, to lend a new dimension to their businesses. Raj Gupta, chief strategy officer, Lintas Total, says this shift would mean that “agencies will have to reorient themselves and learn new skill sets such as information planning and designing for tomorrow’s market.”
One-sided brand communication will no longer suffice and the much-talked about 360-degree communication will take on a different meaning. Avers K Subramanian, executive director, Carat Media (India), “The biggest impact of digital on advertising agencies will be the criticality of genuinely delivering consumer-centered and interactive solutions, rather than staying overtly focussed on television and print.”
Digital has to become an integral part of any marketing conversation of a brand with its audience. However, says MG
Parameswaran, executive director, FCB-Ulka, “The industry would need to get oriented to connect with the younger tech-savvy consumers and also explore ways of using the new media options – such as the mobile phone – that are opening up.”
And for it to succeed, says Mahesh Chauhan, president, Rediffusion DY&R, “it has to have, in its delivery, its own nuances. It needs a different approach from other media.” Finally, it will be all about coming up with media-neutral ideas and then using technology to get these ideas across to people.