Disruption is happening to business worldwide and the communications agency is no exception to this rule. What does an agency need to do to survive and prosper in tomorrow's world? My presentation from Rethink Oslo 2013
I am sure you can all tell by my thick Brooklyn accent that I am
I am sure you can all tell by my thick Brooklyn accent that I am from New York city – no, am joking I moved to New York 6 years ago. Prior to that I lived and worked in London, and if you know the UK at all – I can tell you I am originally from the North. I have noticed a fair amount of Scottish pubs here in Oslo. I come from just south of Scotland.
I am Head of Social@Ogilvy in New York. Ogilvy is the world’s largest marketing communications agency – we operates 450 offices in 120 countries with approximately 18,000 employees Social@O is our cross agency social media / WOM practice focused on scalable, integrated social media. My role is two fold – running a team of 17 in New York and working with the practice heads across all the Ogilvy companies to help them infuse social throughout their work. In this building here – everything from PR to advertising, performance marketing, D&B, research, production, shopper marketing, sustainability, youth marketing and more.
So that’s me. I just wanted to say how thrilled I am to be here in Oslo. Have been wanting to come to re:think ever since I met Arnt. So I was even more thrilled to be invited to speak here at this session. But enough about me. I have come here with my provocative title and now I am going to explain what that means and what we are going to talk about today. The whole world is undergoing immense change and the rapid rise of social media is a big part of that. And marketing communications agencies are not immune to needing to change and adapt to this world too. I have certainly seen this happening in my world. How many people in the audience work with an agency partner for some part of their communications work? How many of you would say they are a social agency? How many of you could define what that really truly means? So today together we are going to look at that journey – understanding what agencies do traditionally and how they are adapting to change and give you pointers to look out for in the agency of the future.
So I work at an agency that built its brand on ads such as this iconic brand campaigns that established a particular style of long form copy David Ogilvy loved but also that propelled these brands to front of mind in the space. The ad has not gone away and is still an important part of the mix – if you follow the ads around the Superbowl for example you will know how many people tune in for the spots alone.
Today’s agency is also responsible for much of the the social and digital work being carried out for brands. I love this example – this is Coke’s new corporate website. Coke actually has taken a content marketing approach and transformed its site by bringing back Journey, which was previously an internal magazine and bringing it to life on the web. The company now employs 4 full time writers to creat this content and you will see that this is content based around content pillars as well as the coke brand – According to Coca-Cola, the digital magazine focuses on so-called universally important topics, social causes, and company news. It will feature original and curated content and is designed to encourage dialogue. Coca-Cola Journey launched November 12. Coke worked with its agency partners to build the site which was launched at the end of last year
An agency partner can undeniably add extra legpower to a brand or client when needed – around launches, events, to cover staffing needs and more. A good agency partner should be like an extension of a client team.
We agency folk have always been good at the networking, wining and dining. It is a core part of our job today – as it was then. I guess you could say that we have always been “social”
Importantly an agency’s role includes gaining the accolades for its and its clients work. With the Cannes Lions and Effies at the front of mind for many, there are many other awards around the world that are just as important.
And as David Ogilvy himself stated – We Sell Or Else – driving business has to be at the core of all an agency does. So why would that change? Why am I up here talking about the agency of the future. Haven’t you all hired partners to help you that do all the items I just listed.
The world has indeed changed. Forever. And digital and social media are at the core of that change.
First in how we communicate and obtain information. We have shifted from a very top down, authoritative approach of the radio and TV days to the sharing and consuming of information across digital and connected platforms. TV, radio, print, is no longer the sole closed authority on how we obtain information
When Facebook hit a billion users globally and growth shot up in developing markets, we hit a real milestone. I am sure you have all heard the stat that if Facebook was a country, it would be the third largest in the world. You could argue it already is. In this new world we obtain our information from each other, from communities, all connected by the internet, with the same democratized access (in most countries) to information as each other – there is no longer one sole source. We the people are the source
And this is information we are obtaining from people all around the world . We are an empowered planet that can do everything from topple regimes to connecting with our own favorite sportsmen as they drive their racecar around a track at 150 mph, all via social media
So does this mean that this woman – for those of you who don’t know her, this is Maria Bartiromo – the money honey, a TV journalist who has worked her way through CNN and CNBC as well as at the WSJ – does this mean she is no longer influential? Maria Bartiromo (born September 11, 1967) (aka "Money Honey") is an American television journalist, magazine columnist and author of three books. Bartiromo is a native of New York and attended New York University . She worked at CNN for five years before joining CNBC television. At CNBC, she is the anchor of the Closing Bell program and the host and managing editor of The Wall Street Journal Report and is credited for becoming the first reporter to broadcast live from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.  She has appeared on various television shows and been the recipient of various journalism awards including being inducted into the Cable Hall of Fame.
Or does it mean that this man, K-Pop leader Psy, whose Gangnam style video has scored over 1 billion views on YouTube – is now more influential in today’s world? UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he is jealous of Gangnam Style artist Psy, because he has stolen his crown as the world’s most famous South Korean. The UN chief joked during a meeting with Psy that he felt overshadowed by the star, whose video has scored over 1 billion views on YouTube.
In a world where each of us has our own personal message shield you could argue that Psy is indeed more influential. Consumers have set up the shield to protect themselves from the sheer volume of messaging and information that is out there in this new connected ecosystem. There are only 3 ways through the shield – Create the most relevant content you can and connect it to customers via advertising, earned media and owned content channels Make sure that content is in search – where each of us goes to satisfy everyday ‘missions’ Or earn their attention and advocacy via their social graph
Kleiner Perkins partner Mary Meeker gives presentations on the state of the web and has been charting the disruption of everything for the last 12 months at least – everything from how we use GPS, using apps like Waze instead of maps – to how we play and source music, the rise of apps like Spotify - find restaurants – tools like Yelp and much more. She has rightly discussed that everything is being disrupted.
With the rise of crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and this huge disruption throughout the world, we are also at a place where many are predicting that small business and entrepreneurship is going to pull many failing economies out of their current dark holes. In NYC alone Mayor Bloomberg has been putting a lot of emphasis on industries like tech + fashion to move the world away from the financial giants that have pulled us down into a recession.
Added to that, the world really is now flat. The huge boom in BRIC nations – particularly Brazil has meant that the former seats of power have shifted yet again.
So for anyone working in that new world, it is clear to see that change is necessary to survive. And agencies are a key part of that world. Now disruption is painful, and not always easy. It also does not happen overnight. So I wanted to share with you, what I see as 5 key traits of the social agency of the future, the agency you should be looking at to be your best partner and the one that will survive. And importantly – I think these are traits that are in progress in an indsutry in flux – hence the agency of the future.
First. Must be as agile as a start up themselves.
Has anyone here read the Lead Startup? Eric Ries brought the concept of the Lean Startup into our zeitgeist. Its principles are all around three core elements – learn, build, measure. Marketing agencies of the future will need to focus on many of the strategies that the lean movement engenders to be successful in this new world. This means a move from big expensive activations, cooked up over a long amounts of time, To this (smaller more connected projects that are more agile and with less hinging on one key moment )
From annual planning when the year is laid out at the end of the year prior To this – real time responsiveness / budget sensitivity (Oreo / Starbucks / Audi – allowing agencies to be truly, inherently nimble and FAST like Audi and Oreo at the Super Bowl, or provide information that further sthe knowledge or entertainment of stream junkies.
From the agency knows best To this - what is being said out there is the new way forward – letting the fans and customers be in the driving seat This differentiates it from the traditional product launches consumers are used to seeing, and encourages Wispa fans to share the news with their Facebook friends. The photo of Kate Mead holding the new product has attracted more than 1,500 ‘likes’ and 278 comments, meaning the launch will have also shown up in their friends’ news feeds. Cadbury is a good example of a brand utilising social effectively to generate buzz around its products and give the impression that its fans have some ownership over the brand. This is a cost effective way to leverage the brand's passionate customer base, establishing a market for a new product before it starts to appear in shops. Heinz ran a similar campaign in November around the release of a new ‘Tomato Ketchup blended with Balsamic Vinegar’. Facebook fans were offered the chance to buy the new product a month before it was released in shops. As brands continue to search for ways of converting their social media following into sales, product launches appear to be a simple way of gaining some tangible results from all those thousands of Facebook ‘likes’.
A personal favourite of mine and quite more recent, the idea of a “ Famebook Fan ” is to use a natural, organic comment on a Facebook page and create a campaign concept from it, usually adding a layer of surreal comedy to it. A more recent example that has gone from Mashable to Metro in less than 24 hours is Bodyform, a sanitary towels company. After Facebook fan Richard Neil posted a tongue-in-cheek accusation to the company for altering the perception of what going through the period really entails, the brand did the unthinkable and replied to his comments.
You could also label this as – understanding the importance of mobile and mobile marketing in the mix
We are still very much in an age of developing extensive content for brands in social channels (in order to provide value, humanize the brand, be present in search engines and more)
The next five years will be about the brands that can actually create a level of utility for the consumer – Hellmans Recipe App created in Brazil - Uber – hail a cab app
A concept that also recognizes the importance of mobility And future agencies must start thinking mobility. Mobile is a channel. Mobility is a behavior. Free yourself from individual screens. Embrace cross-screen integration.
So let’s talk about trait three of your agency of the future
Simply put, this does not mean an agency needs to be in every corner of the world. Rather they understand the dynamics of how information flows. They understand that a program that starts here in India, will also be seen here
In London, thanks to mobile and social technology. And that the people here are not the same as the people in India and so will need their own flavor of the program so that it is culturally relevant.
Importantly they will recognize that innovation is coming from overseas – it is the new emerging territories like Indonesia that are driving innovation, particularly as most people move to accessing the web on their mobile devices.
So let me clarify what I mean here. We still think about the one big idea. And how that plays across various different platforms. And that is still important. A great idea – driven by a true insight – is more important than all the technology in the world and prevails regardless of the platform. If we can make people feel something. Find a gem that resonates. Connect emotionally. But we need to move to a future structure that helps reach the end consumer in the way in which they want to be reached (think back to that personal message shield I showed you earlier).
Particularly in a world where we have new media consumption habits. In the US Netflix did a number of things well when it launched "House of Cards." First of all, it built up the hype cycle ahead of time to get people revved up about it. It got star power in the form Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright. It did something different. It launched all 13 episodes at once, encouraging its viewers to binge on it if they wanted--which many reportedly did. In the age of the social internet, you need to communicate with your audience in an entirely new way--and a big part of that is producing content that matters.
And understanding the need for responsive design and content that lives whereever the consumer wants to see it, is key. Each customer is different. The agency of the future will help you understand that and have the tools at hand to reach them in the most effective way.
Remember we are going from this
To this. The agencies that help brands recognize this are those who will be successful.
We are no longer in a time when your agency partners should be coming to you with fully baked ideas. The agency of the future is one who embraces the hackathon culture. Using rapid prototyping and partnership to push beyond concepts, get away from process, beyond the whiteboard and make stuff. Deliver something real. And does it with platform partners too – the ecosystem needs to be working together to deliver you the final product– as well as mediums – paid owned and earned media need to work together. They need to understand that to understand the modern audience and the connected brand.
And this also goes with your product innovation too. My agency urban myth partners tell me that MyStarbucks came from an agency partner idea. Starbucks is proud to say they’ve listened to nearly 125,000 customer ideas and implemented 185 of them from their MyStarbucksIdea.com (MSI) program. (MSI is a website where customers submit and discuss ideas on ways Starbucks can improve its business.) The agency of the future should be bringing this kind of design thinking to the table.
Integrated is also key. Regardless of core skills, the understanding of integration must be founded in knowing how paid, owned and earned media work together. These three are intrinsically linked – agency partners must understand that.
And finally data and contextual awareness are upon us. Understanding how to use the reams data of data we all create, and tie that to location, devices and more – that is the way of the future. Even if the consumer is not quite ready for it yet.
So this is my bonus trait. Because we are all learning in a rapidly evolving space – and there is never going to be a time when we can all sit back and say – ahh I am done.
Wanted to share a few people that inspire me – Robert B. Cialdini is Regents ’ Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University . He is best known for his book on persuasion and marketing , Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion . Influence has sold over 2 million copies and has been translated into twenty-six languages. It has been listed on the New York Times Business Best Seller List. Fortune Magazine lists Influence in their "75 Smartest Business Books."  In writing the book, he spent three years going "undercover" applying for jobs and training at used car dealerships, fund-raising organizations, and telemarketing firms to observe real-life situations of persuasion. The book also reviews many of the most important theories and experiments in social psychology.
Duncan J. Watts (born 1971) is an Australian-born researcher working at Microsoft Research in the United States. He received a B.Sc. in physics from the University of New South Wales and a Ph.D. in theoretical and applied mechanics from Cornell University . He is also a past external faculty member of the Santa Fe Institute and a former professor of sociology at Columbia University , where he headed the Collective Dynamics Group.  He is author of the book Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age  and Everything is Obvious * Once You Know the Answer: How Common Sense Fails Us ( ISBN 978-0385531689 ).  The six degrees research is based on his 1998 paper with Steven Strogatz in which the two presented a mathematical theory of the small world phenomenon .  Until April 2012, he was a principal research scientist at Yahoo! Research , where he directed the Human Social Dynamics group.  Watts joined Microsoft Research in New York City by its opening on May 3, 2012.  Watts describes his research as exploring the "role that network structure plays in determining or constraining system behavior, focusing on a few broad problem areas in social science such as information contagion, financial risk management , and organizational design."  More recently he has attracted attention for his modern-day replication of Stanley Milgram 's small world experiment using email messages and for his studies of popularity and fads in on-line and other communities.
Why we talk, who we talk to and when we talk – and using that as the basis of all interactions on social channels Earlier today Google User Experience Lead Paul Adams, whose much discussed slideshow revealed t he gaps in the way Facebook’s social graph represented human relationships, announced he will be heading to Facebook in January. Adams’ impressive “Real Life Social Network” slideshow, which got over 400K views, 1799 Facebook shares and was the subject of ample press coverage, hinted at how Google could successfully foray into the social market by taking advantage of the fact that humans are a part of multiple social groups. Why we talk, who we talk to and when we talk – and using that as the basis of all interactions on social channels Why people talk to make life easier - communication is hard wired into our brains 2. to build relationships - conversations send out very strong social signals people are liking a person communal laughter - builds relationships quickly and powerfully. 3. we talk to help others - ask a question and people respond 4. we talk to craft our identity - reputation management, constantly refined by the conversations we have 5. engaged in listening and responding on the wall 7. we talk through many lightweight interactions who people talk to - mostly to our strong ties, our closest friends and family We also talk to people like ourselves we talk most often to people like our selves we talk about our personal experiences - obvious but true we talk about other people - ppl talking about other ppl - social norms we talk about what is around us - cued by our current environment esp retail and mobile we talk about feelings not fact
And I get very inspired by the people I meet each at events such as this – you might recognize some of these faces…
So there we have it – the social agency of the future.
Rethink Conference 2013 - The Social Agency of the Future
Disrupt or DieAre You Working WithThe Social Agency OfThe Future?Gemma CravenEVP, Social@Ogilvy@gemsie
1. As agile as a start up2. Understands marketing as utility not just noise3. Knows and embraces the fact that the world is flat4. Has lots of ideas5. Co-innovates and co-creates6. Is always learning This Is The Social Agency Of The Future