Why Should Brands Care About Agile Marketing?

VidMob CMO Stephanie Bohn Breaks It All Down for AdWeek  

Have you ever wondered how the engineering concept of agile software development became the new framework for content production in digital marketing? Well, when you look back to the television of the 1970s and compare it to the mobile device of today, the answers start to take shape.

In the past, one hero idea dreamed up by a highly reputable agency was typically enough to cover all the bases. One great idea for one placement and one general audience.

Today, however, brands must overcome the challenge of connecting with many audiences across many social platforms and digital placements. Not only that, they’re expected to reach highly specific audiences with targeted, personalized content at the right place, right time, and with the right message. Oh, and to do all that in near real-time.

Luckily, agile development was created to solve big problems and solve them fast. Adopting the agile development formula of launching small, strategic experiments in order to receive bigger and faster wins, helped brands reimagine the way to successfully approach creative while saving time and money.

As brands and marketers stay in this constant loop of production, discovery, and optimization, they’ll never have to worry about producing the elusive, one-size-fits-all campaign again. Because, as Stephanie Bohn mentions in this AdWeek piece, “what is the point of building unique customer segments if everyone gets served the same ad?”  

 

An Operating System for the In-House Movement

Last week I wrote about the tension between the Old Agency model and the emerging New Agency model. New agencies have smartly recognized that their clients’ needs are evolving and have made strides to adapt to the changing times. To do so, they have shown a willingness to work with 3rd party solutions providers, in a recognition that by focusing on the things that they do really well, and turning to partners for things that can be done better elsewhere, their clients will ultimately win.

But in far too many relationships this recognition has taken too long, and the resultant pain and wasted cost have led to a growing wave of brands moving large swaths of the production needs in-house. From last week’s post:

It seems like the wave of brands cutting, or severely limiting the scope of their relationship with their old agencies is growing by the day. Just in the last few weeks, we’ve seen announcements like this one from Chobani, from a host of other companies including, P&G, Unilever, Pepsi, ABI, Diageo, L’Oreal, Wayfair, Allstate, StubHub, Sprint, Booking.com, Starbucks and BMW.

When we talk to some of our clients who have taken the leap into in-housing, there are a few consistent themes behind their choice to do so:

•   Agency cost-structures don’t match their needs of social transcreation.
•   Old agencies are still very TV focused and seem to be largely ignoring TV’s steady demise.
•   Digital “Test & Learn” approaches are an anathema to the old agency creative process, despite being proven to work.
•   Creative talent can be found everywhere — no longer monopolized by traditional agencies.
•   Making performance data actionable in real time drives huge results, but only when they can connect the loop between data and rapid response production.
•   Brand employees know their product better than the inexperienced talent at the traditional agencies that would be staffed on their project.

But moving things in-house has proven to be far more challenging than many brands assumed. The reality is that agencies add a ton of value to the process, and pulling back on their usage has created a number of challenges:

•   Brands don’t know the best practices of the myriad online platforms that they should be advertising on.
•   Finding world-class creative talent isn’t easy.
•   Managing/paying a wide array of creative freelancers is a pain and carries legal risk.
•   Managing creative assets is a universal problem and will only get worse as more versions of each campaign become the norm.
•   Collaborative review among key internal constituencies is a messy process.
•   Asset approval times lead to missed deadlines.

These are real problems, and solving only one or two of them doesn’t really help brands get where they need to be. In order to be truly useful, a single-point solution is needed that accomplishes at least all of the following points:

•   Affordable — To go from producing a few video assets to producing thousands, production has to get a lot cheaper. Period.
•   Built specifically for “Test & Learn” — A properly deployed process of testing and learning leads to dramatic increases in campaign efficacy. But this isn’t as mindless as simply changing the colors of cars in ads.
•   Curated pools of talent that are pre-vetted for each job — Every job is different and the talent needed to succeed on Pinterest is very different than what is needed for Instagram Stories. Finding the right people every time is the first step to success.
•   Fully connected loop (data → production → publishing) — Data without the ability to act on it is useless. The new tools need to connect these three components into a seamless loop so that brands can see what’s happening, create new materials accordingly, and then put those new materials to work the instant they are done.
•   Empowers brand employees to drive the results they want — Every brand has different needs. To be useful, the new tools will have to allow brands to specify the specific KPI’s that matter to them and then optimize around those exact points.
•   Helps brands understand the specific best practices for each platform, as they evolve — Each platform has its own set of best practices, and what’s working today may not work tomorrow. Given that content creation isn’t instantaneous, this puts even more pressure on having continuously updated best practices.
•   A single point of payment and legal agreement — Brands want to create at scale. They don’t want to pay vendors at scale!
•   Archival and robust asset search enables instant access to everything in a brand’s library — As brands produce more and more assets, their library will grow exponentially. Being able to find everything that you already have instantly and easily becomes increasingly important as a lever for cost efficiency and speed of production. Machine learning can be used to help here, but it needs to be connected in a way to enable easy extraction and manipulation of the selected library assets once you find them.
•   Collaboration software will need to make multi-stakeholder projects easy —When rapidly shifting cultural moments make producing content “in the moment” ever more important, timelines have to be compressed as much as possible. To do this, technology needs to play a role in managing all aspects of ideation, production, licensing, and approval in one seamless system.
•   Tools to not only learn what creative is working but why Data is reactive and tends to look backward. Data tells us what worked. In order to improve our creative processes and hit-rate, we need information not just about what worked but why. Creative insights are key, and when creators are given access to systems that can deliver real-time creative insights during the production process, learning cycles can be compressed significantly.

At VidMob, we’re laser-focused on addressing each of these points as part of the technology platform that we offer our brand clients as part of our Agile Creative Suite (TM). In doing so, we think VidMob can offer a solution that behaves like “an operating system for the in-house movement.” Change is never easy. But a great technology platform built on a foundation of respect for human creativity and a true alignment of interests can go a long way towards accelerating us all towards a better marketing future.

View story at Medium.com

Sir Martin Eyes a Comeback

Ever the overachiever, Adweek reported yesterday that Sir Martin Sorrell is eyeing a comeback. In roughly the same amount of time it takes to set up a service call with your cable operator, Sir Martin has seemingly been able to extricate himself from the old agency model with sufficient distance to be able to proclaim that he “can see much more clearly” where the traditional advertising model’s strengths and weaknesses lie. His new agency, presumably, will focus on the former and eliminate the latter. I couldn’t help but chuckle as I read this, and all I could think of was the famous horror scene from When a Stranger Calls where the protagonist is alerted that the results of the trace are in, and “the call is coming from inside your house.” Queue the terrifying music. All due respect to Sir Martin, but his £70 million salary and everything that it represents IS the weakness.

At VidMob, we’ve had a front-row seat to the struggle between the old agency model and the new agency model that is rapidly emerging in its place. And make no mistake about it, struggle is the operative word. The old model was great for certain audiences (Sir Martin) and not so great for other audiences (everyone else—clients and employees alike). But when the people in charge are vested in the current system, innovation is hard to come by.

So we knuckled down and started building a path to a new model, one that we believed would be better for all involved. We believed, and still believe to this day, that VidMob can be a powerful platform for agencies to more efficiently produce certain pieces of marketing content for their clients. We are not a good fit to make Super Bowl ads, but as companies shift from needing a few pieces of video per year to now needing many thousands of pieces, VidMob is a good fit for a surprisingly large percentage of that new content need. And since we tend to do it for a fraction of the cost, and in a fraction of the time, we figured that if we could just explain how it works to potential agency partners, they would adopt VidMob as one of the tools in their arsenal to help deliver better services to their clients. When we heard that many digital campaigns were severely limited by the paucity of assets created specifically for digital channels, and how much agencies struggled in creating the wide array of custom formats needed to get the most out of these powerful (and increasingly important) channels, that only served to further our optimism about the fit. After all, more efficient production means more content, more agency ideas coming to life, better campaign performance and an overall better return on client’s marketing investment. It’s a win-win-win. What could stand in the way?

It turns out the answer is ‘a lot.’ The most common response we heard from the old agency set was that their production groups really liked using their traditional methods because they got really nice lunches on post-production days and it meant being out of the office all day—sort of like a vacation.

The first time I heard this I couldn’t believe the person who said it still had a job. The 30th time I heard it, I couldn’t believe the industry still existed.

Needless to say, this type of client-last thinking has strained the relationships between a lot of top brands and their old agencies. It seems like the wave of brands cutting, or severely limiting the scope of their relationship with their old agencies is growing by the day. Just in the last few weeks, we’ve seen announcements like this one from Chobani, from a host of other companies including, P&G, Unilever, Pepsi, ABI, Diageo, L’Oreal, Wayfair, Allstate, StubHub, Sprint, Booking.com, Starbucks, and BMW.

They say that necessity is the mother of all invention, and as the wave of brand in-housing of creative grows, we’ve seen an acceleration in the development of new agency models. I’ll have more to say about this in the coming weeks, specifically as it relates to how VidMob can function as a sort of operating system for this new client-first agency model, but suffice it to say that the new system reverses the priorities.

The companies that will be relevant and thrive in the new agency world will be those that are quickest to come to terms with and address these 4 realities.

1. Production — Agencies are not and cannot be scaled for production in today’s multi-platform, always-on, always-innovating mobile social ecosystem. The “produce only the great TV commercial model” doesn’t scale in a mobile social-ecosystem that requires multiple adaptations on a theme, and when the cultural moments that brands must respond to pass in days or hours, not weeks or months. Adapting to the new production reality means finding creative ways to expand the supply chain.

2. Platforms — For most emerging consumer groups, not only is TV watching down, but their gateway to mobile or digital is through apps, like Facebook, Snapchat, or Instagram not a browser on the web. New agencies will re-think their over-reliance on cheap, easy programmatic advertising and convenient display ads and move to and understand the platforms and formats their audiences engage with.

3. Performance — Loose proxies for performance, like a gut reaction or reach and frequency, no longer suffice. Today’s CMOs are data-focused both pre- and post- production. Relevant and successful agencies will be those that integrate rigorous multivariate (not just A/B) testing and an unwavering focus on actionable insights, driven by deep learning.

4. People — Consumers are (geographically) everywhere, as are brands. The old agency model placed a premium on geographic location—to participate in the old agency creative process, being geographically located in New York, Chicago, or LA was a prerequisite. New agencies will leverage networks of creative which lets the best idea and execution/ not just the best location/ win.

The mythic marble offices in the Madison Avenue skyscraper may be depowered in the new agency model, as well as a thousand other extravagances—including those special sushi lunches at the production offices. It won’t be great for those things and it won’t be great for a handful of people—their £70 million salaries probably won’t be part of the new agency model.

But it will be great for all of the other employees, and most of all, it will be great for marketers.

View story at Medium.com

Highlights from Facebook’s Creative Together Event

This past Wednesday, Facebook hosted a game-changing networking event, Creative Together, that opened the doors for leaders in the creative and advertising space to learn more about Facebook’s Creative Platform Partner solutions. The result was an afternoon of rich discussion on how agencies can leverage Facebook’s creative tech partners, like VidMob, to help solve their most pressing creative challenges.

Event Highlights

We were thrilled to have not one, but two Team VidMob representatives on stage at Wednesday’s event:

1.   Creative Platform Partner Showcase

Our CEO, Alex Collmer, presented VidMob’s creative solution in this showcase. Alex highlighted the unique advantages of developing creative using VidMob’s streamlined collaborative workflow and our Agile Creative Suite to monitor performance, gain insights, and more effectively optimize creative.

Want to be a part of the beta launch for our Agile Creative Suite? Sign up!

2.   Bridging the Gap: The Rise of Creative Platforms Panel

Our SVP of Data Analytics, Joline McGoldrick, followed in an engaging panel discussion. Joline talked about how VidMob can transform an agency’s big idea using data-informed creative decisions to help ads connect and resonate with audiences, not just in-feed but across all formats.

The New Creative Platform + Agency Dynamic

Overall, we were encouraged to discover how agencies, such as R/GA, who also spoke at the event, are using Creative FMPs like VidMob to help scale their big ideas on Facebook. As the media landscape continues to evolve, it’s becoming more and more apparent that the next big, successful agencies are poised to be those that adapt and evolve in tandem.

At VidMob we see agencies as irreplaceable. They will always be the idea experts. However, as social experts, we believe that VidMob can be irreplaceable in extending those big ideas at scale. Our expertise and deep understanding of  Facebook’s best practices can help agencies develop engaging and compelling creative that will resonate with audiences across the entire Facebook ecosystem.

A final note…

Many thanks to Facebook for inviting us to be a part of this Creative Together! We are energized about the opportunity to collaborate with more agencies and develop amazing creative together.

Cannes You Dig It?

Things are heating up at the Cannes Lions International Festival for Creativity!

For those lucky enough to be beachside in Southern France, be sure to check out what our awesome partners are up to below. And for those who aren’t? We hope this list will help you feel like you didn’t miss a beat.

Facebook

– Facebook Beach

From a stacked line-up of thought-provoking speakers, discussions, and forums to wine and cheese tastings to yoga, Facebook Beach does not disappoint (nor does it bore). Oh, and did we mention they have a video booth?

BONUS: be sure to check out the recording below of our founder, Alex Collmer, on Content Collision live from Facebook Beach!

Instagram

– Instagram Gallery

This rad, ‘gram-inspired art installation, Wander + Wonder: Step into the Frame, is open all festival long, featuring installations, demos, and living dioramas from Instagram’s community. See here for even more photos of the installation.

Snapchat

– The Ferris Wheel

The best way to capture Snap-worthy views of the festival.

Pinterest

– The Pinterest Board at the Palais

All the ideas! The ultimate to-do list for festival goers.

– Pinterest Pier at the Carlton

On top of exciting guest speakers, try the brand new Pinterest Lens. It will image-search the things you see in real life.

Let us know which events you’re itching to check out in the comments below.