Editor’s Note: The article was first posted on LinkedIn Pulse by Deepankar Kapoor, Director of Digital Strategy, Havas Media. Lighthouse Insights is re-posting it. The views presented in this article are the cumulative analysis of all the personal feelings digital agency professionals have expressed with the author by the end of 2015 over a pint of beer on any given Friday evening, be it Mumbai, Delhi or Bangalore.
While most of us had had by now read a lot of articles, feeds, subject lines of in-house agency marketing mails, etc. about the top 10 trends in digital in 2016 by which we gather some external point of views as to how different state of things are going to affect our industry – here are the top 10 trends in digital agency ecosystem in India which are coming more from the internal environments of the digital agencies we all work in.
Pay Grades will NOT improve: With almost every third person quitting the agency system from a Chief Creative Officer to a Creative Controller to start his own social/digital shop – the key fight will be among the network and the non-network agencies over retainer fees which makes it a hugely cost competitive market. Adding the fact that some might only try to scale up on the pretext of revenue and not profits (many are still practising it already!). This will directly impact the kind of talent one can keep at as low a cost as one can, leave alone the fact of retaining one! To lend a sample, while a network agency asks for 6X as a retainer fee – a non network agency easily commits to doing the same job at 0.6X-1X.
Top brass will get confused of the “right” hiring parameters: While all the agencies struggle (or battle as they claim) to attract and recruit the best digital talent, they will clearly have no clue as to what are the exact skills sets for the emerging jobs in digital. Think about the upcoming roles in agencies: Digital Strategist, Digital Planner, Data Strategist, Content Strategist, Content Planner, Social Strategist, Paid Media Strategist, Search Strategist, Influencer Marketing Strategist, Integrated Planner, New Media Strategist, Mobile Strategist, phew…..Could you please list some more?
Top brass will fill in Traditional Media experts to head digital agencies: No disrespect to the fraternity, but all the HR managers and Head Hunters are gunning for people having 15-20+ years of experience in the “digital” domain! Either these guys were working with the founders of Google, Twitter, Facebook, etc. or they were testing codes in their engineering college – both of which are not a working qualification or pedigree to claim a seat at “Head of XYZ Digital Agency”. Contrary to the fact that they might be excellent when forging/forming relationships with ex (or current) clients as people might perceive them to be – they will NOT have core competency. Try holding a room on the programmatic and ad tech decision with your client for the next annual digital marketing plan.
Emergence of Digital Marketing courses: Good way to make money will be by quitting a digital agency and starting an educational body to impart digital marketing courses as private institutes by providing a “jumpstarter” kit for a newbie to digital industry. Or trying to educate the traditionalists for them to make a career switch.
Integration is more or less MERGING things together: Alright, so you have a HoReCa division, Outdoor, Mainline, PR, Digital, among others in a single setup. Integration will mean “merging” their powerpoints together to present an “integrated” plan to the client which (you rightly guessed) will be devoid of a central thought.
Work Ex of 1 year = Work Ex of 3 years in a Digital Agency: Employees will feel faster burn out rates in digital agencies. From 27 iterations on a social post (in a single day) to 137 iterations on that tiny mobile banner (for a single campaign) on which the client expects to attract organic leads, working in such a FAST paced environment will make them feel overworked at a quick pace.
Art and Copy will merge: With a plethora of online softwares and mobile apps which are making publishing easy and “templatised” (so to speak): agencies will further make their agencies leaner by finding the right CORT person (COpy and ARt skills in one resource person). This will eventually be termed as the first step towards “integration” on the agency charter.
Expect “more” shorter turnaround time for pitches: With the current trend of time being given to pitch for a new business being from a week to ten days, it will further reduce to 3 to 5 days. Expect more of cookie cutter formulas from the media agencies wherein every other agencies’ deck will look similar to each another and every other idea from every participating creative agency will look similar too (case in point ‘Jugaad’ from Sulekha and Exide). Therefore, the fight will be again on quantity vis-à-vis quality. Result: Winners will be the lowest bidders to the business.
From Media Fragmentation to Agency Fragmentation: With too much media fragmentation and specialist agencies coming to the forefront – it will become too confusing among agency partners to execute even the simplest of digital campaigns because a lot of brands/companies will have too many experts on board – from a search marketing agency, social media agency, creative agency, mobile agency, website development agency, data analytics agency, ORM agency…. Add more if you can think of. Coming to the final point.
More studies will create more dissonance for clients and agencies: More reports on digital from Nielsen, Millward Brown, FICCI, IAMAI, SoDa, SocialBakers, WeAreSocial, comScore, and others will create havoc for digital planning because of varied sources and analysis. Maybe another skill will be required for the emerging digital marketing manager? Say SPSS, maybe to do a regression analysis on the different variables and to arrive at the right data points.