The rise of programmatic has ignited discussions about the possibility of programmatic and creativity coexisting effectively. The lines between these two aspects are now slightly blurred, as more agencies are collaborating and entering pitches in consortiums.
During Marketing’s Digital Performance Marketing 2017 conference, the idea of breaking down silos between programmatic and creative was touched upon, with industry players discussing which one of the two should be the driving force, and what the future holds for creative agencies.
“Your driving force should be your audience, whether it’s creativity that hinges on programmatic or vice versa,” Athena Bughao (pictured right), regional account director, B2B Media Planning, Essence said.
Bughao added that while data points are also important to drive creativity, it is the insight that connects the company’s ads to the audience. Hence, both the ad and its placement have to be relevant to the audience.
Meanwhile, Arnab Ganguly (pictured second from right), group head of digital and analytics, Kanmo Retail Group, said programmatic should be the driving force in the coming years followed by creativity.
“If you don’t have the data to analyse, then you cannot make proper creative sense of it,” Ganguly said. Nonetheless, he added that instead of operating in silos, Ganguly added that there should be a bond between creative and media agencies. He added:
It’s imperative that as a brand, you cannot work in silos.
"You need to have a ‘cohesive bond’ between the creative and media agencies. Otherwise, it will not work as per your need," Ganguly explained.
For Bughao, silos are not defined by space. Having the creative and media teams sit side by side might not prompt them to collaborate more. Whereas, teams sitting in different countries might have closer interactions that allow both parties to understand the ad’s purpose and how the media agency can help push the ad onto the right platforms.
“There are pros and cons when the creative and media agencies work in silos or create a cohesive unit. But I think everyone agrees that each element has to collaborate to be successful in forming a centre of excellence (CoE),” Bughao said.
Echoing Bughao’s sentiment is Lion and Lion’s managing director Sumit Ramchandani (pictured second from left), who added that there needs to be a “clearly established” CoE with common goals where agencies, be it creative or media, will all take credit for successes and blame for failures.
“Right now, what tends to happen is that agencies generally have no qualms about sharing successes. When it comes to failures, it’s a different story,” Ramchandani said. He stressed that everyone needs to work together towards a common cause.
According to him, creativity is not just about the creative asset that comes from a creative agency. "Creativity is about a combination of showing the relevant messages to the right audience via the right platform," Ramchandani said.
Hence, creative and media agencies will still have to collaborate in order to ensure a successful campaign. Ramchandani cited dynamic creative optimisation (DCO) and creative management platforms (CMP) as examples of how creatives and programmatic can coexist. “With all these tools now available, it allows you to customise creatives at scale pretty quickly," he said. Ramchandani added:
There shouldn’t be any excuse from either the creative or media team that companies should compromise on either the placement or quality of messaging.
While there has been concern in the industry that the automation of ads might cause jobs in creative agencies to be cut, Ramchandani said that while change is hard for everyone, it also needs to happen.
“Creative people that are smart will realise that what has made them successful in the past will not necessarily make them successful in the future,” he added. Hence, the creative agencies might be more inclined to collaborate with media agencies to ensure they can obtain the relevant data and analytics to make improvements to their ads.
What is the future of creative agencies?
According to Ramchandani, creative agencies will move towards providing clients with a more streamlined experience by cutting down silos. “Lion and Lion is integrated so we don’t have the challenge of silos, but Publicis One is a step in that direction. Creative agencies are realising the need to remove silos and are taking steps to correct it,” he said.
Also weighing in on the topic was Riku Vassinen, head of digital, J. Walter Thompson Worldwide, who said that the industry is getting more complicated for clients. He cited an example where he witnessed 10 agencies servicing one client.
While all of them were brought on board to solve 10 different problems, Vassinen said agencies can help reduce the friction by eliminating silos and taking on the role of an “orchestrator”.
“I think it is important that there are these orchestrators who can tap into different specialists [within the agency] and help clients make sense of the complicated world,” Vassinen said.
He said that viewing automated ads as a threat to creative agencies is a “short-sighted” view. Vassinen said:
If machines can do the job, it’s not really a job you want to do.
“There’s already lots of run of the mill stuff that the agencies are doing, that should be done by machines. If machines are doing that, you can actually concentrate on the more important things,” he added.