The media and technology world is in constant flux. In order to keep up with trends, and keep our clients ahead of the competition, it is crucial that we adopt an agile work ethic.

By Michael Ingemann, chief digital officer, Mediabrands Denmark/Nordic for DMEXCO 2017

Rather than focus entirely on performance and do things we know are tried and tested, we need to be bolder with our approach – and not be afraid of failure. With our data capabilities, we can in ’real time’ understand the true impact of new activities and scale them when we see them working. So investing in new digital trends need not be a risk – but an opportunity to reach your audience in new ways.

Ten years of dramatic change
In today’s media landscape, advertisers’ media needs are incredibly fragmented and varied compared to just ten year ago. Their business requirements have changed dramatically and we, as their agency partners, must fall into sync.

It goes without saying that digital technologies are central to this change. UM’s proprietary Wave study has shown that consumers use of social media increases yearly, as does their demand for video (across multiple screens). And the advertiser’s love affair with Search is by no means over, rather it has grown way beyond Google and voice activation has become a major part of it.

For those of us operating in the space, this is all now already second nature. But many clients require specialized help to navigate in this digitalized jungle; and to design a media mix that puts their (often declining) budget to greatest effect.

Of course the change doesn’t stop here. It will only happen faster, and more dramatically as technologies advance – which is why as agencies we are investing more in data, tools and tech talent. Media planning will become more and more focused around making real-time decisions, generating instant reports and interpreting massive amounts of data at the drop of a hat.

Budget for boldness
In this climate, it goes without saying that we must be structured in a way that allows us to move fast, so that we can test and embrace new trends. Remember the Pokémon Go craze that hit us a year ago? Smaller companies were quick – and able – to take advance from an advertising perspective, but the larger ones found that their models were perhaps too cumbersome to allow them to get onboard.

So how do we do that? Firstly, we must start with a plan – one that is based on a clear hypothesis of how our activities will impact people and why. At Mediabrands, we invest substantial resource in identifying comsumer behavior and cultural shifts so are well prepared to spot these trends even before they hit us. Part of that plan must also include measurement. It is crucial that we know that we are going to understand the impact that any plans we make (especially if they are untested) are impacting our clients’ businesses.

But the crucial thing next involves a change in attitude (from us as agencies, and from brands) – one that allows us to make braver decisions and be willing to embrace change. Setting ourselves up in the way described above makes this a whole lot easier, because our careful planning and the measurement plans will reduce the risk factors traditionally associated with trying something new.

Naturally, we appreciate and understand that advertisers often plan ahead for a whole year and allocate budgets. However, in today’s market we believe that advertisers might be better off if they allocate a separate budget share to “boldness”.  This budget is specifically there to test new waters, trying new technologies; some that may not even exist yet.  We may fail at first, but if something doesn’t work we have the data and measurement structures in place to stop it and move onto something new – so all is not lost. When we do find something that works, on the other hand, we optimize and invest more into it. In other words, we look new trends straight in the eye.

As agencies, our role – more than ever – is to challenge our clients and encourage them to think more along these lines. Keeping customer needs and demands front-of-mind at all times, our job is to facilitate an environment and a process that enables our clients to be bolder and take more risks. After all, if you hide in your tower, customers will move on and on until they are, eventually, out of your reach.