Vox pop: Agencies must embrace a smart mix of services to succeed in 2016

By Naomi Taylor | Client Services Manager

RBH (Rees Bradley Hepburn)


The Drum Network article

This content is produced by The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

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January 26, 2016 | 13 min read

Last week eMarketer launched a report suggesting that ad spend on digital display will, for the first time, top the ad spend on search. Within digital display, the most money will be spent on banners and ‘other’, video takes second place with around 14.3 per cent of money being invested in its production. The Drum Network asked its members: following from the report, does this suggest 2016 is crunch time for agencies to focus and invest more in digital video? Whilst some were adament that video would drive success, these members believe that search should be embraced further as well as a smart mix of other services that will benefit clients.

Fizz Bingham, digital account director, RBH

I agree with eMarketer’s report that digital video should see the switch of spend from search in 2016 but I do not believe agencies and clients will be brave enough to reduce ad spend from the staple media of search, as well as invest the time and money to producing intelligent video. There is an education required in the industry to view digital video differently from analogue video & to understand its capabilities. In addition, the investment in technology required to maximise the effectiveness of video from search and analytics will always be compromised by the desire to deliver higher production values and ensure brand messaging in video. Something you don’t need to worry about with search.

Nick Livermore, marketing manager, Digital Visitor

Naturally, agencies should – and will be – keeping their eyes firmly trained on industry trends; it’s all part of the game. And clearly, there is a shift taking place in where the majority of ad spend is going.

Having said that, what absolutely isn’t happening is a switch, in bulk, from search advertising to digital video. The overall spend for each is rising at a reasonably consistent rate. One is simply growing faster than the other. Would purveyors of search advertising services rather this be the other way around? Of course. But the data is indicative of two broadly healthy facets of the same – healthy – market.

But back to the question at hand. I’d say that it’s as good a time as any for agencies to invest more in digital video and display advertising in general. That’s not to say, however, that ‘it’s time’ it happened; such a suggestion seems a little misleading, as would be proclamations of ‘search is dead’. Actually, it’s thriving.

Richard Madden, digital marketer, Strawberry

I think more investment is a natural step for agencies but getting clients to trust and see the value in video is a big hurdle that needs to be overcome. As marketers, we’re always trying to think of ways to stand out from the crowd and a well thought-out video concept can do that. The big issue is that many still consider video to be an expensive luxury when it doesn’t have to be. Mobile phone-type footage can be just as effective as an all-singing, all dancing production so I think we need to educate our clients too.

I think it’s important to show clients that you can actually measure the success of a video campaign. How often have you been able to show the effectiveness of a newspaper or magazine? With video, you can measure everything. From the number of views to durations, you can offer real, tangible results to your clients and prove the value of what you’re producing.

Changing attitudes takes time though. I suspect most agencies struggled to really sell search spend to their clients at first and I don’t think getting them on board with video is any different. We’ve all seen the stats about how many views video gets on YouTube and, just looking at your Facebook timeline, you can see how important video is becoming on social media. There’s a balance to be struck with where our digital spend goes, it’s something that will change and evolve continually. It does feel that digital video is becoming an important part of the marketing mix so we’d be foolish not to direct more budget to it.

Matthias Kandel, senior strategist, Hugo & Cat

Describing the shift in spending as a ‘switch from search to digital video’ is misleading. While the growth in display formats is remarkable, search also continues to grow. What we can observe, is that spending is adapting to a more complex and fragmented media landscape. One that is dictated by the changing media consumption of today’s audiences. Still, it is a landscape in which search remains hugely important.

For creative and digital shops, a more diverse mix of amplification methods is a huge opportunity. It allows for extending big ideas and great storytelling into a multitude of consumer channels with less need to compromise on execution. At the same time, we have the methods at our hands to guide audiences and capture interest.

Let’s take the recent ‘Joining The Army’ campaign by the British Army as an example. A strong creative idea that is amplified via rich above and below-the-line media, using display formats including digital video. The campaign is supported by search to make sure no potential recruit is lost by not finding its way to the recruitment page. This works wonders for bridging from an advert on the tube to a campaign tweet that has been shared with only half of the information. And instead of placing a cryptic link on an outdoor poster, that nobody can remember, the British Army actively encourages people to just ‘search for jobs’.

In short, instead of getting distracted by what’s currently ‘hot’ we should embrace a smart mix of new display formats and ‘classic’ but effective search techniques.

Henry Moffett, account director, LONDON Advertising

It may be more helpful to think along the lines of - as the portion of adspend allocated to video increases, how should agencies apply that additional % vs. the benefits of search.

Search is great because it gives you visibility in the active consideration phase of a purchase journey – it’s when consumers are rummaging around your category. For a long time, search has been the most effective tool, by some distance, in converting active interest into clicks. A causal relationship between searching and clicking is an easy thing to digest.

However, over the coming years, with an increasingly sophisticated and programmatic understanding of a digital purchase pathway, video can play a more prominent role in this phase of the consumer journey. We can better identify the context of a digital video play and how close it is to the purchase moment.

Neil M Hancock, head of optimisation & planning, Silverbean

Initially, on the surface, the study states that US brands are going to be switching the bulk of their spend to digital video, but by digging deeper into the numbers, video in 2016 is only going to account for 14% of digital spend compared to 44% in Search and 20% in banner ads.

The growth of video is also slow, with an increase from 13% in 2015 to only 16% in 2019. If the growth of video spend increases at the same rate, and the spend into search decreases at the same rate, it will take till around 2035 before video becomes a larger spend.

However, agencies do need to be aware as the traditional search auctions increase in competition and cost, brands will naturally need to look elsewhere for cheaper traffic. It is this, along with the growth of programmatic that is feeding the increased investment into display as a whole.

Agencies therefore need to be ready to service these needs through further in-house creative skills and trusted partner networks. However, in my opinion agencies need to be careful not to be blinded by the buzz around video, and proportion their investment and resources correctly based on demand and desire.

Yes, video is growing and important for agencies to be able service clients requests, but agencies would be better continuing to improve their search capabilities as voice activated search is going to affect marketing budgets in 2016 much more than video ads.

Micro-Moments are fuelling the need for brands to have a broader digital marketing strategy, but a Micro-Moment, in its nature, can happen at any time, and can be solved through many types of content. Video is only one of them, so neglect search and other display mediums at your peril.

David Johnstone, managing director, We Are AD

Let’s be honest - how many times have we heard that video is the ‘next big thing’, only to find it suffers a growth stunt and doesn’t quite measure up? If content is king in the eyes of marketing experts, online video content is the ready-to-strike prince; full of promise and anticipation, but without any display of its real potential (yet).

That’s not to say it doesn’t have its place - we’ve all seen the success it’s been able to bring previously unheard of consumer brands like Poo-Pourri, or the way it's aided the rebrand of multi-national organisations like Dove, but how confidently can we say the investment is really worth it for every agency?

First up - resource. While it’s free to produce videos on a smartphone camera and iMovie, it’s not tools that make the most crucial investment. The staff you employ are what makes an agency tick, and finding the time and money to retrain existing team members isn’t guarantee of instant success. As much as we may practice the old Oscar-in-the-mirror gig, we’re not presenters and we’re not actors, in the same way we haven’t all got degrees in video production. How much are we compromising the invaluable resource of staff and time, with somewhat little proven information on ROI?

Similarly, for most marketers, it's the statistics on how video is consumed that sell it strongest. Research from Google and Ipsos shows that, while millennials only give television their full attention 28% of the time (normally watching it while eating, texting or chatting to a friend), 53% respondents watch mobile video as a sole activity with no other distractions. Fantastic, apparently, but in terms of advertising, I can’t help but wonder if this is also one of its greatest downfalls. Video marketing can only be consumed when it is watched in its entirety and how often do we have the time to dedicate solely to one activity? Digital film can’t be consumed while we’re in the office working, on the train with no signal, or while we’re otherwise disposed. With attention spans at an all-time low in the social media age, how willing are audiences to sit still and be sold to and how practical is huge investment in something that requires so much dedication from its viewer? Video may have killed the radio star, but you can’t watch TV on the drive home, can you?

I'm all for a quick-fire educational or 'how to' video from agency experts, or a 'behind the scenes' snippet for recruitment purposes, but I feel our audience(s) are less concerned with seeing lengthy, over-produced videos of us blowing our own trumpet.

Fergus Cable-Alexander, Group Account Director, JJ Marketing

Brands moving on from search? Sorry, we’re just not buying it. The data from eMarketer is undoubtedly interesting but it doesn’t in any way suggest that search is being left behind.

Just as the internet entered the market and everyone thought it was going to leave TV behind, the popularity of video or display advertising is not going to leave search redundant. The internet, or digital video in this case, may be growing at a more rapid rate but TV, or search, is steady, reliable and, ultimately, powerful.

What this recent development in digital video spend may be illustrating is an improved confidence in the market. We are past the recession and brands are starting to go back to long term benefit in a battle for the consumer’s trust and loyalty, as opposed to purely focusing on the short term ROI.

Creativity and content are becoming more of a focus and with that video is sure to rise. As technology and data have become more advanced, with video loading times, quality and developments, such as 360-degree VR video improving, the internet has become a more video-happy environment. This is just as great a reason for its increased marketing spend as any.

With a greater audience now demanding more video content, there is a greater battle for consumer loyalty, which is where astute targeting will be paramount in securing genuine engagement.

Talk around Google including video ads in search results heightened towards the end of last year and this only supports the view of a future where video will be a paramount feature of a client’s marketing strategy. While this is the case, it would be near impossible to treat video as a separate entity - if anything, it supports search as a form of rich content and is already important for SEO. Just as there was talk of social becoming the new search, it turns out that the two work to support one another, just as video and search undeniably will.

So does the popularity of video suggest it’s time for agencies to focus and invest more in digital video?


But not at the expense of search.

Content created with:

RBH (Rees Bradley Hepburn)


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