For marketers, who've been very focused on budgets during the past 12 months, their expectations of their agency partners will continue to be high. Agencies are expected to be able to manage the marketers' smaller or tighter budgets. It is a real worry to marketers that agencies will struggle with this, as evidenced in the Scopen AgencyScope South Africa 2017 report. With our economy only growing a little, this focus will continue to persist in 2018.
Johanna McDowell of the IAS is also the South African partner of Scopen. She shared a wealth of insights into the local marketing-agency relationship, as well as SA-specific insights and what attendees can expect from the upcoming Scopen masterclasses...
[Full disclosure: Scopen Global and Mazole Holdings (the company that owns IAS 100%) have formed a company in South Africa called Scopen Africa. Scopen Global holds the majority of the shares; Mazole is a minority shareholder. Johanna McDowell is a director of Scopen Africa, as is Cesar Vacchiano, global CEO of Scopen.]
While margins may well be growing tighter, agencies are being forced to look further afield for more business. I’ve noticed that many agencies, especially in Cape Town, have a number of international clients and can compete aggressively for business based on price and talent.
More and more marketers will handle more and more digital marketing in-house, I believe, not just because it’s more cost-efficient in some ways but also because they want to understand the role of digital more closely and believe that one of the barriers which they have is lack of knowledge. As the digital demands within and across the business grow, the percentage of dedicated digital marketers within the marketing department should increase from about 25% to 35% in the next 12 months.
The above trend directly links back to return on investment (ROI). This will also become a more and more important focus for both marketers and agencies. Marketers love digital marketing as they can see an immediate result, which links to consumer engagement and sales. This helps to prove the value of marketing and advertising. ROI will become more and more sophisticated over the next 12 months as the growth in digital channels continues to flourish.
With six successful years under its belt, House of Brave co-founder and ECD Vanessa Pearson shares what makes them a top-five SA agency with first-rate strategic planning and digital effectiveness, as per Scopen's AgencyScope 2017/18...
All over the world, agencies talk about the shortage of skills and talent in the industry. Does this mean that advertising as an industry is becoming less attractive to potential recruits? Or are there too many other options? This will be debated at length here and globally for some time to come.
Promise has been voted by clients as a foremost agency in South Africa for client satisfaction. Promise is also the only agency to maintain its position in the top five after the debut Scopen Agency Scope survey...
Transparency is a big issue. It’s not necessarily being viewed as such here but I believe that SA will follow the rest of the global ad world and that marketers will be demanding far greater levels of transparency in media — especially with digital expenditure. Media-spend reporting and media audits will mushroom.
BEE and transformation
There is lots of talk about this issue and a number of transactions and transformation initiatives etc are in place across the industry. Partnerships will form in this area during the early part of 2018 — and some of these might be borne out of desperation or need. I hope that most of these will be borne rather from desire to partner and a willingness to share growth and economic transformation.
The coastal city of Durban in KwaZulu-Natal is seeing something of a resurgence in creativity and innovation among the local agencies. I think this will start to become more and more significant over the next 12 months.
Johanna McDowell counsels clients and agencies around expectations in the advertising, marketing process. She is CEO of the Independent Agency Search and Selection Company (IAS), a division of black-owned marketing services group Mazole Holdings. Contact Johanna on tel +27 (0)10 594 0281, email her at and follow her on Twitter at @jomcdowell.
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