Vacchiano was recently in Johannesburg to present an IAS Masterclass.
Among the top trends noted by Vacchiano is that clients are working with an increased number of partners, as post-Covid marketing teams are smaller and the communications industry more complex with more options and platforms.
“Clients need expert assistance across more areas, and it is difficult to find one agency with expertise in every area,” he says. “Effective collaboration is becoming a challenge. In South Africa, many clients select a lead agency to help coordinate the process.
Another trend is the increasing importance of data. “Markets have had to deal with the after-effects of Covid, along with political changes and wars, making it difficult for CMOs to anticipate changes,” says Vacchiano. “We’re living in a permacrisis, an extended period of instability and insecurity. It’s a huge challenge, and CMOs want to understand trends, and rely on data around their competitors and the market.”
Here, McDowell notes that in a data-dense era, marketers are also looking for data focused on consumers and the consumer journey. “Understanding the consumer and being able to engage with them has become critical, but while many marketers have access to this data, not all know how to use it effectively yet.
“Martech is becoming increasingly important with the huge amount of data available, adding to the need for new learning.”
Another vital element in the mix now is the importance of clients having senior and well prepared teams within their agencies. Says Vacchiano: “Clients realised that through Covid, they were often dealing with junior agency staff members, likely due to marketers putting pressure on agency fees.
“Now, clients want more involvement from an agency’s leadership team. It’s also clear that the independent agencies appear to deliver on access to leadership better than the large network agencies, which may be important for larger agencies to note.”
Saving the biggest – and most rapidly changing arena – for last, Vacchiano and McDowell agree that the pandemic accelerated the growth and implementation of digital, and the importance of investing in this sector.
“Agency Scope studies show that agencies globally did a better job than marketers at investing in digital capabilities and the hiring digital talent or the acquisition of digital agencies,” Vacchiano asserts.
McDowell adds that agencies as a whole are in a better position when it comes to digital skills and Martech than they were three years ago. '
“Marketers are lagging and relying on agencies to provide the expertise in this area,” she says. “In South Africa, it’s clear that those agencies who are able to collaborate with other digital agencies or set up in-house facilities are becoming far more attractive to the client.”
These top five trends have shaken up marketing and agency relationships overseas, and the same is already being seen and felt in South Africa, says McDowell. “We look forward to our researchers’ data coming in as Agency Scope SA 2023-2024 makes headway from May.”