#AOTYAwards spills: How PurpleClick emerged stronger through the pandemic

 

Taking home the bronze award for the category of Programmatic agency of the year at this year's Agency of the Year Awards is PurpleClick Media. This is a pivotal point for the agency, which has been mostly recognised as a search marketing performance agency. Besides winning an award in the programmatic arm, the agency also broke new ground and was a finalist in the category of Media agency of the year. 

These recognitions did not come easy for the agency, The team saw a reset due to the pandemic, after being on track with expanding its capabilities, diversifying its client portfolios and having aggressive growth plans. However, this challenging year also helped the agency see strength in collaborations, and set it on a path of more possible partnerships with different creative agencies in the future. PurpleClick truly lives up to its definition of great marketing, which is one of flexibility, creativity and continuous learning.

More on the interview here.

This interview is done as part of MARKETING-INTERACTIVE’s winners and finalists’ interview series. To find out more about the awards, click here.

What are some of the expectations your consumers now have for your brand?

In the past 14 years, PurpleClick won many awards in the Search and Local Hero categories.  We have always been labelled as “the Search Marketing Performance Agency”, when the reality is, we have been providing 360 digital marketing services to our clients.  Winning the Programmatic Agency Award is a turning point for us to break out of the mold. Finally, advertisers can entrust us with their full funnel marketing strategies and implementations, from generating awareness, nurturing and to conversion.

How has your marketing/your clients marketing plans shifted this year?

During this COVID-19 pandemic, small and medium businesses were disproportionately impaired.  There will be deep recessions but recovery will be quick once they develop the vaccines. Unfortunately, the businesses that were hit the hardest were companies that were slow in switching to online solutions.  They have no means to make their services or products available to consumers during the lock down period.  Hopefully this is a wakeup call to accelerate in technology development and innovation.  Advertisers need to accept the reality that people have changed the way they behave and consume information, therefore they too need to evolve.

Initially, there will be lower marketing spend because of the economic uncertainties. As marketer, we need to be resilient, help our clients navigate and  rebalance between efficiency and effectiveness of their marketing campaigns.  Hence data is crucial to help us achieve more with less, and allow us to solve problems dynamically.  Two years ago, we recognized the importance of data analytics.  We built an in house data analytics team to embark on helping our clients build their first party data.  We also expanded our own in house programmatic and rich media ad serving capabilities.  Coupling data, creatives and programmatic reach, we have all the necessary ingredients to help our clients reach out to the right audience according to the stage of their buying journey. 

What are some of the trends you see carrying on post-pandemic, and how are you readying your workforce to be ready with these trends?

This is a challenging and unique time for new employees joining any company.  We need to find creative ways to hire and bring people on board. Managers will have to help the new remote employees get acclimated quickly and stay motivated, ensure that the employees thrive in their new work environment, and assimilate them into the company culture.  

And for the current employees, companies need to pay attention to employee’s mental health resulting from isolation. When it is safe to return to the workplace, the returning employees will need re-climatization because they will face a wide range of new office policies, procedures, and protocols. 

The pool of workforce the employers can draw from will consist of recent graduates and employees who have been displaced during the pandemic, struggling with reskilling and upskilling challenges.  Employers must be prepared to deal with the employees’ steep learning curve.

Moving forward, companies will need to trust and empower their employees by allowing flexibility in where they work and how they work. Many will replace in person meetings with virtual meetings because of convenience and safety measures.  However, I still believe in the importance and effectiveness of using face to face meetings to build relationship and trust, especially with people you have never met before.  We have a better chance of converting prospects into customers with an in-person meeting when we can read the subtle nonverbal body languages, handle objections and reduce the chances of our messages getting lost in technology.

At the end of the day, we need to figure out how to strike a balance between using a mix of technology and human interactions. 

What do you think makes for great marketing these days?

Great marketing is flexibility, creativity and continuous learning. There is no silver bullet and fast win.  It takes a lot of hard work, persistence, willingness to test and continuously fine-tuned, and using data to guide you through this process.   Even if the campaigns did not turn out well, there are lessons to be learned and improved upon.  Marketing is not a destination but an ongoing journey.

I think there will be increasing awareness and discussion on advertising code of ethics and social responsibilities.  In recent years, we have seen the power of social media in influencing attitudes and behaviors.  Problems become more apparent and opinions become more polarized.  As Advertisers gather more data, they have to exercise care in how they use the data to connect with their consumers versus using the data to manipulate their behaviors.    Advertising agencies can help lead the way in ethical use of data and promoting responsible use of Artificial Intelligence in shaping consumer decision. 

How are you planning for 2021?

2020 is coming to a close.  The key lessons learned from this pandemic is that nothing stays constant, and how vulnerable and fragile the human race is.  Pre-COVID, PurpleClick was on track with expanding our capabilities, diversifying our client portfolios and we had aggressive growth plans. The pandemic caused a temporary reset.  Even though currently there is a big push for digital and ecommerce nationwide, the recovery will not be V-shaped but gradual.  Advertisers will continue to be prudent in their spend and constantly on the lookout for options to do things more cost effectively.  PurpleClick will stay vigilant to protect our client interests, we will continue to invest in the promising AI technology, and deliver value for our clients.

Instead of working in isolation, we discovered during this period that we are much stronger when we work with partners.  Hence, in 2021, we are committed to working with different creative agencies on joint pitches, data providers and technology platforms to strengthen PurpleClick’s offerings, as well as a broad spectrum of publishers and channels to provide more options and diversity to our clients.