Aegis announced at the end of last week the formation of a new agency, Isobar Mobile. Focusing first on the UK and then looking to expand to their other markets, it seems that they are looking to make a splash with a mobile unit to co-exist with their Isobar, Carat and Vizeum and iProspect groups. They intimate that the group will be working closely with the existing media groups, but at first glance it seems to be otherwise.
One of the trickier components in media planning is the fact that there are often different agency teams planning for traditional and digital even if they are owned by the same company. With the best of intentions, the groups try to communicate strategy and analysis, but then there are still pieces that are not congruent and opportunities for optimization are lost.
Perhaps its a pipe-dream, but the traditional and digital media teams should be coming even closer together so that all media can be planned more holistically prior to being presented to the client. In many cases, it is the client who must piece things together to reach optimization. And too much is left to chance that key integrations are brought to the surface by publishers themselves.
By setting up an extra group that is separate from the other teams, it just provides more chance for lost opportunities due to challenges in communication and timing. Adding to the challenge is the uncertainty of, “who actually covers what?” In the case of Aegis, they say the mobile group will handle “everything from mobile and multi-device apps to mobile internet, NFC, mobile advertising, social media and digital installations”. There’s a number of items in there that are screaming for confusion when the digital team is presenting multi-device, social or installation plans, the traditional team is presenting mobile internet as it relates to publisher print, NFC for out of home or installation plans – and that doesn’t even consider the company’s PR team who might be coming in with any or all of the above…
It is definitely too soon to jump on what Aegis is doing as a losing cause – but perhaps a cautionary note is in order. What might have been better positioned as having mobile specialists placed within the existing teams with one or two “overseers” who can work on the larger initiatives and filter that down to the embedded mobile specialists, is seemingly now another group with its own P&L and possible need for power grabs and wins of its own accord. Perhaps it will work – and I hope it does (as I have enjoyed working with many people in the Aegis family) – but it will take a lot of work on all parts internally and externally (client-side).
In the larger picture, the sad thing is that one of the obstacles to digital becoming truly mainstream or the driving factor of a media plan is that it has been considered a separate component from traditional media. This certainly isn’t always the case, but for the most part, the agency teams doing the media planning for traditional are separate from the digital ones. Opportunities for optimization, integration and just executing that “perfect” campaign are lost because of this. By further separating digital into online and then mobile adds further to the challenges. I would even posit that by doing just that, the effectiveness of the “traditional” digital teams are handicapped.
Rather than adding more groups, layers and possible confusion, we should be looking into ways we can integrate more fully and seamlessly. Not only will we be able to enjoy smarter and more successful campaigns, but effective ones affecting workload, pride and growth.