Gorkana Insight & Analysis Team
Richard Brett, MD of Shine, on the challenges of collaborating with other agencies in the new world of social media, and why some marketing directors might be missing a trick.
The rise of social media has changed the game. Marketers have by necessity become more open-minded about how big ideas are generated and PR is considered a lead discipline as never before.
At Shine we see evidence of this in the growth of our pure planning fee income. Yet although PR is increasingly well equipped to deliver truly engaging ideas, and often can and should lead the planning process in this age of conversation, many clients are still wrestling with how best to manage collaboration between their various agencies, especially as many are offering social media services.
This issue lies at the heart of our new #smartplanning report, which features research into agency management trends we commissioned from MBA students at London Business School. Sixty one marketing directors were interviewed to ascertain their views on agency structure, multi-agency management systems and how disruptive the rise of social media has been on agency roles and boundaries. This primary research was augmented by desk research to provide greater insight into the planning headaches and opportunities that have emerged. It's apparent that in a dramatically changed media landscape, ad agencies are no longer the automatic choice to take the ‘keystone’ role in the agency ecosystem.
As independent strategic planner Ruth Tobbell says: "In the days when TV was the fastest way to reach a mass audience it made sense for the ad agency to be the centre of gravity, but we live in a very different world now. It’s time that clients started thinking differently about the way they approach development of communications. It's clear to me that if they want to achieve collaboration between agency partners and seamless integration of campaigns, the ad agency should no longer be the default choice to lead this process."
Our LBS research underlines that social media is now an essential part of the marketing mix. Almost three quarters (72%) of marketing/PR professionals consider it important or very important to their organisation. Yet only 63% believe their organisation has incorporated social media well.
A major reason for this is that social media doesn't sit neatly in any single organisational department. While social media is found primarily in the Marketing (81%), Digital (62%) and PR (48%) departments, other departments such as Customer Service, Research, Sales/Commerce, Product Development and IT are all also reportedly involved.
In this light, it is unsurprising that marketing directors identify a variety of roles for social media. Brand awareness (72%), events (49%) and promotions/giveaways (46%) are the most popular, followed by media relations (39%), customer service (36%) and revenue generation (18%). It's a complex picture, and although strategies are beginning to form some marketers are struggling to take things forward coherently.
According to digital analytics company comScore, social media now accounts for one in every five minutes spent online. As social media becomes an intrinsic part of daily life, pinning down those killer big ideas matters more than ever.
However, not all organisations go about this in the same way. Our LBS research indicates that the larger the company the more likely it is to encourage multiple agencies to pitch the big idea. While 36% of organisations with over 1,000 employees give all their agencies the opportunity to put forward ideas at the same time, only half as many organisations with under 1,000 people follow suit.
How to lead and integrate communication agencies is an issue for almost four out of every five marketing directors. A healthy majority (69%) manage between two and five agencies, and a further 10% manage six or more.
Despite the numerous and profound changes in the communications landscape, marketing directors are ostensibly satisfied overall with agency management, briefing and campaign execution. However, many may be missing a trick. Only 11% assign a lead agency to manage others and less than a third engage with all of their agencies at the same time, effectively denying some agencies the opportunity to come up with the brilliant 'big idea'.
Only 49% of marketing and communications directors believe their campaigns are well integrated; and a mere 31% are in favour of working with a one-stop-shop able to execute all ideas. Interestingly, a quarter of respondents to our LBS survey believe it is most effective to manage each agency separately and conduct the integration in-house.
In the new communications landscape, fresh thinking is required if brands are to hit upon the big ideas that put them ahead of competitors. Planning can no longer be bound by the rigid rules and unforgiving agency structures of the past.
Social media and the internet more widely have converted passive consumers into active participants in co-creation. Ideas are being generated in new ways and the pressure is on to unearth insights that are powerful and flexible enough to make a real difference.
To find out more, download Shine’s #smartplanning report from www.shinecom.com.