Interviews

MOST GLOBAL BUSINESSES PREFER INTEGRATED COMMUNICATION AGENCIES

Promise Oduh is the Business Unit Director of mediaReach OMD. He speaks to Vincent Utere on media buying and why integrated business models are more preferred by most global businesses to siloed ones.

MediaReach OMD is a top player in the media buying business in Nigeria. Tell us more about the company?

Before speaking about mediaReach, permit me to link this introduction with its global entity which combines to present a more holistic picture of this professional marketing communications solutions giant in over 140 countries

OMD is a division of Omnicom Group Inc, the world’s largest advertising marketing communications company. Omnicom Group is a strategic holding company providing the entire range of marketing and communications solutions on a global basis. Formed in 1986, it incorporates three advertising agency networks- BBDO, DDB & TBWA as well as OMNICOM Media Group (OMD, PHD, Prometheus, Novus Print Media and Icon International and DAS (an organization with a portfolio of specialist marketing and communications companies in over 140 countries.

MediaReach OMD Nigeria is the hub for West & Central Africa and a member of the OMD Worldwide Network since 2001. mediaReach is a specialist media agency that provides media planning, buying, control and inventory management services. It has its offices in Lagos, Accra and Douala. The company holds professionalism, client responsiveness, innovation and integrity as its values in action; and is also widely known to be the most transparent and accountable media independent in the sub-region.

How Does the Media Buying Process Work?

The media buying process is the art and science of leveraging media space and time to enhance the realization of marketing objectives. This starts from a clear pathway of how to deliver the objectives set out in a media brief, which in other words, is the planning brief. From clarifying the objectives to understanding the target consumer and the consumer journey phases,  you define the strategic framework and media platforms that will drive both reach and influence score. The determination of this leads to the planning process which involves both the use of navigational and evaluative metrics. Both are leveraged to forecast and navigate toward a channel or program for effectiveness or profitability.

 

The navigational metrics is a set of data-based analytics deployed by media planners in understanding the consumer and how best to reach them and achieve set media deliverables or expectations as well as forecast trends and solutions. Once the planning process is concluded, media plan is shared with the client, and is deployed once this is approved by the client via the Media Purchase Order by the media buying agency. The Evaluative Metrics steps in to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of the campaign deployed.

Your Publication, Media Facts, is a key resource for PR and Marketing Professionals in West Africa. Tell us more about it.

At mediaReach OMD, with Media Facts Book, we curate accurate media information based on syndicated research and an intelligent interpretation of the facts is given by Media Lab, our unit dedicated for research and analytics.

Over the years, Media Facts Book has become a key resource for Marketing and PR professionals in West and Central Africa. For Instance, this resource material goes deep into analyzing each country across demographic dynamics, political context, the economy, media houses and their ratings. This becomes an immediate guide to marketers and PR practitioners with regards to how to weigh media budget in line with the ratings of these touchpoints.

Media consumption pattern, media expenditure pattern per quarter, zones, and expenditure dispersion by region are analyzed across all the platform drivers -TV, Radio, Print, OOH and Digital media. These and more are other important information that will be of interest to any brand custodian, marketer or PR practitioner in taken a guided and an informed decision.

The media landscape is changing globally, what trends do you think will shape the media buying business in 2019 and beyond?

Kantar recently released media landscape predictions outline 12 trends that are expected to shape the media and marketing industry across the board over the next year.

Analytics and artificial intelligence (AI), says the research firm, will finally bridge the return-on-investment (ROI) gap. There is increased pressure on companies to measure and prove ROI. The use of data in more sophisticated ways, thanks to better data management systems, together with AI and analytics techniques, will create a greater understanding of true ROI, as marketers will be able to get to grips with omnichannel behavior and media investment.

Thanks to the growth in connected devices; marketers will be able to use voice technologies more creatively, Kantar predicts, adding that it foresees an explosion of voice and audio activity by brands in 2019. Opportunities for the use of audio in communications will arise not only from connected devices like those connected in-car entertainment and smart speakers, but also from a variety of formats; such as, voice assistants and podcasts.

Kantar notes that China is emerging as a leader in allowing marketers to understand how social media can employ new technologies that will create both trust and richer experiences for consumers. Examples include TikTok, the short video-sharing platform which reaches 100,000 users with social ads; and Red, which releases 500,000 product-related posts per minute. Both demonstrate how brands in China are reaping the benefits of earned and paid social media.

In the year 2019 and beyond, it will be incumbent on brands, therefore, to create a world of experience as opposed to selling products, Kantar says, predicting the creation of a “branded experience network” of social platforms being transformed into marketplaces, publishers becoming content creators and data scientists turning into advertisers – think Amazon’s launch of the first voice-controlled microwave in early 2018.

Gender targeting is seen to be coming to its own, with brands getting serious about social issues; such as, the way women are portrayed in advertising. Kantar predicts it should take until 2020 for marketers to develop competence in gender targeting and eradicating stereotypes. Amazon will become a dominant player as an adverting platform in 2019, with advertising revenue becoming its fastest-growing sector. Given the size of the audiences it engages, advertisers are expected to look to Amazon as a marketing vehicle for their brands as it joins Google and Facebook in this space.

Kantar says video ads are fast becoming their own “standalone” sources of content, and not simply an edit of TV advertising. This trend is expected to grow as consumers want authenticity from videos, illustrated by the success of Snapchat and Instagram story ads that entertain consumers in a personalized way, with technological advances allowing them to become involved in the conversation.

According to Kantar Report 2019, the big screen, AR, smart data and gender targeting will rank high for marketers and agencies next year. It foresees that far from decreasing in popularity, the big screen will make a comeback in 2019. 

According to research undertaken by Kantar Norway, smart TV penetration is growing rapidly, indicating that consumers are still watching TV in all its forms, and are turning to the best available screen for their TV and video needs.

AI is also expected to help drive media targeting in 2019. New developments in marketing automation will be assisted by AI, which Kantar argues is one of the greatest developments of modern times. AI in the media and marketing industry will enjoy an increased adoption rate of over 50% in 2019 as well as impact-predictive analytics, marketing automation and advertising targeting, speeding up decisions about media for agencies and their clients.

The report notes that two thirds of global brands (65%) will be increasing their spend on influencer marketing over the next year. But celebrity brand endorsements are predicted to give way to more authentic “micro-influencers”; that is, experts in niche topics who have a very specific profile and are more likely to be trusted by consumers.

Targeting will become more specific over the next 12 months, according to the report.  More sophisticated data sources will be used, which will allow the targeting process to become smarter and provide more space for digital creativity, with greater focus on attitudinal and contextual targeting.

The report further states that an increased focus on augmented reality (AR) will be another hallmark of 2019. AR provides consumers with the opportunity for immersive experiences, thanks to the availability of AR on the mobile web. AR is expected to gain traction in the consumer world faster than AI, which Kantar says will continue to reside largely within the business-to-business space. The advantage AR provides for brands is that it enables consumers to “try” their products out, experience destinations and visualize furniture in their homes before they make the decision to purchase. Brands that experiment now will reap the benefits when AR becomes the norm, Kantar says.

What does this portend for Nigeria? The world of media is changing as the digital and technology revolution continues to grow. The consumer is oscillating in a tabula rasa state of need, which means that the consumer is consistently on a need journey looking for the brand that will fill it.  Brands should therefore create experience models that will bridge the proximity between the need of the consumer and its quotient to fill those needs. I would not have done justice to this question without talking about Netflix. Netflix has been launched in over 190 countries including Nigeria. It comes with three affordable monthly plans for the Basic, Standard & Premium packages respectively. Their subscription numbers in Nigeria is on the rise. With Netflix, subscribers can watch movies and TV Shows online or stream right to their smart TV, Game console, PC, Mac, Mobile, Tablet and more. This means content consumption platform is changing. Netflix currently accounts for 40% of African Sub-Saharan SVOD subscribers including Nigeria.  Brands that connect to this new content consumption eco-system will be the brands of the future, and the time is now.

Many PR practitioners are calling for an integrated approach to communication business, where independent functions such as PR, Media Buying, Content Creation and Social Media are brought under one agency roof. What is your take on this?

Driving and executing an integrated marketing solutions strategy for a brand will always be the best and the most effective. However, bringing the various expertise under one room may cannibalize the consultancy model and quality of service of these adjuncts of advertising. Even skills and specialization may be endangered. Most businesses today prefer to hire smaller consultants to proffer solutions to their marketing challenges and use these smaller, if you like ‘’briefcase’’ companies, as checks on the big ones. They also consider cost, turnaround time and bureaucratic hiccups as disincentives to a more integrated model. I believe that the disintegrated practice system is helping to infuse healthy competition amongst practitioners and bring out the best and brands benefit immensely from this, as consultants from either the media buying, creative, digital or PR agency are challenged to deliver and earn the client’s confidence.

However, an integrated spectrum has its benefits as it drives economies of scale to the client who will receive a more holistic and single thought proposition from a one-stop agency which warehouses the creative, media, PR and digital under one roof. Most global businesses also prefer to work with a more integrated business model where they are serviced by one agency across all marketing communications needs.

Some PR agencies are offering media buying as part of their business or as a way of amplifying their earned and owned media efforts. Is this not an encroachment on your territory?

This phenomenon is growing especially in the US.  It might seem unusual, but it’s a growing trend in public relations, where the core competency — storytelling — is increasingly cutting across not just earned but paid media. Consider that Fleishman-Hillard in 2011 bought about $100 million in paid media across nearly 25 clients. Why now? Experts say it’s because earned-media efforts, especially social-media work, benefit from being supplemented with paid elements that drive consumers back to the original content. But the question that begs for answer is, do the PR agencies possess media buying competencies which goes beyond ad placements? Weber Shandwick CEO Harris Diamond confessed that they had to hire planners from media buying agencies to drive the media buying briefs. This goes back to argue that skills and relevant competencies are required to build a formidable integration or service extension. However, a PR agency with the requisite competencies and service level potentials can compete in the market place. For instance, a PR agency can set up a digital unit, create contents and manage social media for their clients knowing that most social media engagements are image related, and this can effectively align with managing the different publics of their clients.

Finally, what does it take to become a media buying practitioner?

No formal university will teach you media buying as a course. David Ogilvy in his book ‘’The Confessions of an Advertising Man’’, says that the business of advertising is learnt on the job, and this includes media buying. This is the reason you find graduates from different disciplines and backgrounds in media buying. Though, a Post Graduate School like the Alphabet Media Academy in Lagos, Nigeria which commenced academic sessions last year, is filling this void. It is currently admitting students for the next session and media buying courses are taught.

It takes passion, the right attitudes and humility to excel in the media buying profession. You may be surprised at my answer. Passion is the appetite that will drive your courage, the right attitudes will give you the grace to learn and deliver on the job; humility will help you conquer all obstacles while remaining focused. You must be a thinker. You must have an analytical mind. You must be paranoid. You must be value driven. You must be consumer centric. You must be knowledge-hungry.  All of these non-academic and professional attributes will be iced with a good degree in the sciences, arts, social science or humanities and a certification by APCON (Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria, set up by Decree 55 of 1988, which is now an Act of Parliament). This will give any interested potential candidate a good start in media buying.