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By Claire Randall
From new agency and creative production models, to new content and creative platforms. Brands and marketers are increasingly acting as publishers
Another trend in the production space is the use of creative content platforms: It’s become the evolution of crowd-sourcing towards a more professional, curated and technology-driven approach.
It’s a very challenging but opportunistic time for advertisers, who have access to increasingly more options with which to push the success of their campaigns. And in line with this shift to a more fragmented and digitally-driven world, brands are also changing their approach to marketing and content creation as they increasingly act as publishers.
As part of this process, brands are re-evaluating the relationship they have with their agencies and, in turn, how they manage production. Brands are recognising that in a digitally led, tech-enabled world, there is no longer a need for complex and rigid agency structures. Instead it is more important to have an agile team that can rapidly and reactively develop campaigns and content that can be deployed regionally, nationally, or globally.
Furthermore, we are finding that for the “mid-market hub” content – that is to say, content that is neither the big expensive brand “hero” ad nor the low-end always-on “hygiene” work – there exists a gap in value for money creative and production. The big creative agencies are too expensive and slow to react, and other options don’t provide the quality needed. Brands are struggling to find the answer.
A fragmented and confusing content creation ecosystem. Who does what?
At the same time, the creative production landscape has evolved so that it is now more fragmented than ever – in services, sizes and structures. For clients and brands, this landscape is incredibly complex and hard to navigate. It’s not clear what each agency does, who they are owned by, and where they can offer services. Everyone seems to be able to do everything, anywhere in the world. More and more, agencies are stretching themselves in order to win as much new business as possible, and that causes confusion over where their true strengths lie.
Similarly, Production Companies are expanding their traditional creative production services to include broader creative capabilities and often end to end production management, including business affairs. Boundaries are unclear and there is lots of overlap between different types of agencies – content agencies, digital agencies, creative production agencies – they all have similar capabilities and it is increasingly difficult to distinguish between them.
What Production operating models are out there?
A considerable number of advertisers are pulling business away from agencies and bringing some of the work in-house. A well-publicised ANA Survey from the US showed that , 78 percent of members of the Association of National Advertisers had an in-house agency, up from 58 percent in 2013 and 42 percent in 2008. As part of that, many have also taken more control of their production spend, by creating in-house production hubs or partnering with a network production facility or an outsourced, independent production partner.
The advantages of these operating models can include; cost efficiencies, better knowledge of brands, dedicated staff, more control, speed, agility and transparency. However, risks can include managing workflow & resources and scaling efficiently. With in-house production hubs, another challenge can be not being able to attract and retain the right kind of talent (due to location, type of organisation and culture).
In-housing/Insourcing should not just be about cost reduction, but process improvement and maximising value. In addition, there is no ‘one size fits all solution’ – many advertisers are experimenting and most have some form of hybrid model. Advertisers may create a roster of production partners, build their own in-house production capabilities or appoint a single production partner. This will vary depending on volumes and needs.
The increasing use of platforms for sourcing creative content
Another trend in the creative production space is the use of platforms: A model that allows brands to gather creative content on a large scale while keeping an optimal level of quality at an affordable price point. It’s become the evolution of crowd-sourcing towards a more professional, curated and technology-driven approach. All differ in the detail, but generally characteristics include:
Platforms can solve one big challenge that brands are facing: they need more for less, but still require quality to deliver effective work. However, they are stuck in an obsolete model that is over localised and limited to two outputs – high end, eye catching and expensive; or high volume, cheap and less engaging. The best platforms will find and commission the right supplier to produce good quality work at the right price anywhere in the world. However, the output varies hugely depending on the platform, the brief and the level of curation.
For example, for the Influencer sector Whaler is doing well and for User Generated Content (UGC), Vidmob is strong on account of its tech capabilities. For more traditional film, platforms like Genero and Tongal are popular. Then there is Vidsy and The Smalls, who are both well respected. 90 Seconds and Movidiam have interesting tech, the former is strong in Asia and trying to grow into the West, whereas Movidiam is more of a pool of talent that allows agencies or brands to build production teams. Its wise to run a couple of ‘test and learns’ at the start to find the most appropriate option.
Many Advertisers are experimenting with different operating models and content strategies. There are many options available to them to ‘do things differently’ but they all have pros and cons, risks and benefits and need to be considered carefully. It is essential for advertisers to carry out a full risk assessment first and ensure they have the right team on their side. A production audit is usually the best approach to understanding the status quo and baselines. Some top tips for advertisers when considering a change in their production ecosystem would be:
Marketing Procurement can facilitate this process for Marketing, removing the emotional element when there may be long term, existing agency relationships. It’s a lengthy and complex journey, which requires a balanced and measured approach. Procurement can act at the enabler to gather the data and ensure all aspects have been considered carefully, before embarking on anything radical.
Ultimately, good communication, planning and prep are the key to delivering cost effective creative production (regardless of the media type) in a timely fashion.
About the author
Claire Randall Consulting (CRC) is a leading global creative production management consultancy headquartered in London. We work alongside marketing and procurement departments of blue-chip companies and brands globally, helping them to achieve value from their advertising production investments and to navigate an increasingly complex production landscape. Our collaborative approach means that we reduce costs, create efficiencies and increase value for money without compromising quality.
With people and expertise in North America, Europe, Middle East and Asia, we have been helping our clients create tailored and efficient content production strategies for over 24 years.
The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Producers & Procurers iQ or imply endorsement from the publisher