Alex Saber explains how marketing companies must evolve in order to survive…


Businesses all over the world, no matter their industry, are continuously faced with upheavals brought on by the digital transformation and the constant evolution affecting society and the way we work, communicate and consume.

The chain reaction, offset by technology innovation, has ushered businesses into an era of fast-paced and unforgiving change. This disruption has pushed us to unchartered territory and put media agencies at the forefront of change.

Agencies have built up in-house digital capabilities and technologies while seeking a slew of agile talent. We have all found ourselves in a new era very quickly, one that is propelled by real-time marketing, ad technology, automation and big data. This leaves many to wonder whether the future of traditional advertising agencies is doomed.

Our industry’s dynamic, evolving and fragmented landscape is paralleled with the increasing client need for integration and a consolidation of agency offerings. In a bid to survive and broaden their own and their clients’ horizons, major holdings groups have beefed up their investments and capabilities across verticals and horizontals.

Technology, partnerships and continuous product innovation are the name of the game. At Publicis Groupe, for example, we made ambitious acquisitions – such as real time multi-media branded content creation company Relevant24, and real time data management and multi-channel programmatic buying platform, RUN. Externally, this objective has translated into power partnerships with technology companies including Facebook, Axciom, Twitter and comScore.

Simplifying offerings to deliver best-of-breed approaches, resources and talent across all areas of our business is important. This standardises approaches and enables faster scaling across clients’ business. They will benefit from the economies of scale and research efforts, both key elements in our field.

The era of specialists working in silos is long gone. Client leads and planners have morphed into communication specialists across different verticals, ranging from standard outdoor billboards and the avalanche of video distribution formats to social, search and performance media.

Trading desks have also evolved. They have more programmatic capacity than ever before and, most importantly, they are closer to the planning leads. This enables effective cross-device targeting while marrying offline and online activities to optimise engagement across all verticals. In turn, this translates into ample opportunities in our market, where automation and technology tools are growing at pace, yet still comfortably coexist with traditional media.

This is a distinction that media agencies with an arsenal of global tools must make when they deploy them in the local market.

Technology has radically transformed the media world but the science behind what we do remains unchanged. People have been and always will be our main asset and driver.

If agencies fail to understand or explore how global tools and technologies can converge with local talent, they will reduce themselves to technical jargon in craftily worded presentations and catchy industry headlines. They will lose out to those who can understand these trends. These are the agencies that will stay ahead of the game.


Alex Saber is the chairman of Publicis Media Middle East ; Gulf Business ; 19 June 2016


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