If anyone was still in any doubt as to the critical role that technology plays in the success of agencies and their client brands, the recent interview with WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell in The Drum must surely have made believers of them.
“The vast number of media pitches being held this year by the world’s leading advertisers are being decided based on agencies’ ability to provide technology, data or content,” Sir Martin said as he reported a 3.3% rise in profits for the previous quarter.
Sir Martin is not alone in recognising that price and creative talent, once the critical issues for client brands trying to discriminate between pitches and agencies, are no longer relevant.
So what has changed?
The major change over the past year or so is that digital and internet solutions no longer correlate to web design but to performance across frameworks and platforms. Today’s user cares less about the beauty or even the functionality of the business home page: she probably doesn’t even want to see the business home page. She wants the information, the products, the sounds.
With the rise and rise of the digital personal assistant, the move away from personal and business web pages to Facebook pages and, of course, the ubiquity of the mobile app, websites are pretty well relegated to what they do best of all – provide an excellent virtual shopping mall and source of entertainment. E-commerce has reached a level of sophistication which will ensure that web pages are here to stay but nobody thinks that the technology behind that is going to change dramatically any time soon.
What is changing at an astounding (even to us) pace is digital technology. The tools, products and ecosystems that ensure brand interconnectivity across digital and social platforms must evolve and mutate with each new shiny digital toy. Managing multiple platforms means knowing where the user is and how he or she will consistently and reliably connect with the product to achieve the brand’s goal and that is the focus of today’s tech.
When Sir Martin and his fellow advertising moguls talk about the new focus of the agencies on the Big Three – data, content and technology – he is reminding us that it is not okay to batter the user with flashing pop-ups, unwanted banners ads and whole-page requests for email addresses.
When we go to a web page it is because we want to access information, a product or a service. Creating a barrier between users and their end goal is just unacceptable to the sophisticated users of today when mobile apps, API’s, social media presence, search engine optimization, customer service channels, and physical locations are taken for granted as part of their user experience.
UX is the watchword for web developers and tech is key. Managing and disseminating discrete amounts of information consistently across all platforms is the way forward for agencies and brands in the coming months. When you want to know where and when a movie is showing, where the nearest car park/station/taxi is, the cost of the tickets, how to pre-book and get a table afterwards in the local Korean Restaurant, what you are really asking for is the cutting-edge technology to enable you to access the information as quickly and painlessly as possible from Siri, Google Maps, Uber, The Rex Movie House and Google Now (other brands are available).
So, this is what Sir Martin means when he says that technology, data and content are the key issues. Brands want to reach their customers and they know that their customers are not going to come to their websites unless they want something specific.
The current push-based model means knowing what the user wants (data) and giving it to them (content) exactly how they want it (technology).