The Death Of The Digital Agency. Long live Digital – Sabyasachi Mitter

Sabyasachi Mitter, MD, ibs shares why 2016 is going to be a very interesting year for digital in India, even if it still commands significantly less share of wallet than traditional media

Editor’s Note: At LI we are inviting some of the best digital marketing minds of the country to share their opinion on how the market has evolved and the different facets that have attracted or distracted them in 2015. This is the third in the series, an exclusive guest post from Sabyasachi Mitter, Managing Director, ibs – a digital agency headquartered in Mumbai.. (Click here to find the entire coverage of this year end series)

Sabyasachi Mitter IBSThe year 2016 is going to be a very interesting year for digital in India. It has the potential of changing the dynamics of the agency ecosystem in the country as well as finally making digital mainstream even if it still commands significantly less share of wallet as compared to traditional media.

To understand this radical transformation one has to look at some rather dramatic media consumption trends. While TV still delivers the greatest reach, effectiveness in driving brand metrics is increasingly under question.

The small screen is now big in terms of time spent. The youth today are gravitating towards messengers and newer ways of socializing. The mobile is today the primary internet device and streaming is the new cool as compared to downloading. In the dramatically altered digital ecosystem a mobile first world with the mobile at the heart of digital strategy is taking over.

The desktop is dying and with the coming of 4G and cheaper smartphones this is going to accelerate. Social media as we knew is dead with plunging organic reach. In the midst of such radical changes digital marketing as we knew it a year back is almost on the death bed and with it digital agencies of the past. Many skill sets are fast becoming irrelevant (flash being a classic case) and with it professionals who have not upgraded their capabilities.

Good news for digital agencies

The good news is that digital agencies of today who managed to reinvent have it better than ever. Clients are looking at digitally led campaigns if not digital only ones as well. The role of the agency that understands, lives and breathes digital is increasingly at the head of the table in multi agency meets. Briefs for campaigns are available with all agencies and the best ideas win irrespective of which agency comes up with them.

The good thing is that this should be a boon for the industry with lot more cutting edge work coming out. It will also be time for the survival of the fittest. Recently the Gillette Flexball launch campaign was run exclusively with digital first and the entire campaign lead was with us, the erstwhile “digital” agency of P&G. Similarly, the ongoing Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon is a digital only campaign but the mainline communication including the TVC, radio spots, activations and OOH installations were conceived and delivered by ibs, hitherto considered a “digital agency”.

With the greatly increased focus on digital as the lead/important media, budgets are already seeing a surge. This is not necessarily in social media but across user experience, apps, analytics, e-commerce, programmatic, IOT and a whole bunch of emerging technologies. This is going to create huge opportunities for niche digital agencies as well as technology enabled service provides.

The other Holy Grail is content

With many brands shifting to content marketing as an equally import part of brand marketing as television commercials, the agency ecosystem is bound to get restructured. Newer more agile agencies who understand real time and quick time content marketing are producing snack-able content quicker and cheaper than traditional agencies can manage.

As content produced for digital match broadcast quality at a fraction of the cost, many of the traditional beliefs about audio visual content production and delivery are rapidly evolving. Newer means of producing content including 360 degree videos and VR are creating a new breed of agencies who think digital.

Programmatic media buying for digital is expected to gain traction in 2016 and most large players are going to have some of their digital media bought through DSPs.

However, some traditional media is also going to start getting bought through real time bidding including radio and digital OOH. This will open up new vistas for digital agencies who have always been better at programmatic buying as opposed to I/O based media purchases. This will be another area where the new age digital agency will have a level playing field.

In summary 2016 will be a new era for digital, one in which those that demonstrate integrated communication capabilities with a digital core will find their rightful place under the sun, while traditional agencies (digital included) will have a fight on their hand, a fight that would get increasingly difficult to win.