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How creative relationships have evolved between brands and agencies

Visual content is how brands express their identities and communicate with their target audiences. Historically, they’ve been quick to turn to their agency partners to support increasing demands for visual content as they, internally, become strapped for resources.

Marketers have traditionally partnered with agencies to produce content for their campaigns. But in 2018, the relationship between brands and consumers is far more complex. A one-off promotional campaign is incapable of retaining your audience’s attention over the long-term. One-off ads are not effective tactics in digital marketing.

Content is far more effective when used as a tool to nurture relationships through repeated touch points.

The digital marketing output challenge


Brad Jakeman, formerly President of PepsiCo Global Beverage group, best describes the marketer’s challenge for maintaining output in the digital age.

For a brand like Pepsi, it was once sufficient for us to produce four pieces of content a year — mainly TV — and we could spend about six to eight months developing that one piece of content and spend $1 million on each piece of film. Now, that four pieces has turned into 4,000; eight months has changed to eight days and eight hours, and budgets have not gone up.
— Brad Jakeman, PepsiCo

Traditional creative models, which allowed brands to produce a handful of large pieces of content in a calendar year, are no longer scalable. The sheer volume of content demanded by consumers requires more resources, more talent, more money, and more time. Many internal teams lack the capabilities to produce that content, but those same limitations restrict the amount that can be outsourced.

The creative agency challenge

Brands want to create content at scale. But they must be conscious of how much of their budgets are spent producing all of that content.

These expectations are changing the relationship between brands and their agency partners. Brands are re-evaluating how agencies support their marketing endeavors. Agencies still have a role to play in the creative model, but their importance in the grand scheme is starting to wane due to marketers’ expectations to manage the bottom line.

This past summer, the New York Times reported that WPP - the world’s largest advertising agency - cut their growth forecasts, citing shifting priorities of their core customers. For example, brands in the consumer goods category are scaling down marketing expenditures in favor of product development investments.

This is part of an effort by established brands to keep up with new forms of digitally native competition. As a result, brands are re-evaluating how they create content and questioning how to incorporate agencies into their creative workflows.

Brand and agency relationships are increasingly complex

Once upon a time, the relationship between a brand and an agency was fairly straightforward. The brand would analyze the marketplace, define their positioning, and brief an agency on how best to create content to achieve their goals. The agency would extract key components from all of that data, align those insights with the brand, and create content to empower the brand.

However, as the relationship between brands and consumers grew progressively more complex, the relationship between marketers and their agencies followed suit. An article from McKinsey on how to get the most from agency relationships illustrates this complicated dynamic.

Brands have traditionally relied on agencies to produce content for singular or special marketing campaigns. If a need arose for social-friendly visuals, an agency could scale creation of those assets. Should you plan for high-quality video content, you may require another agency that specializes in video content production.

Creative videos address the customer journey.png

As channels like Snapchat, and later Pinterest were introduced to the market, people were given even more platforms to consume content. Each new channel introduced more creative and dynamic content formats for marketers to monetize. Therefore, the need for fresh content grew as brands sought to provide consumers with the experiences they demand.

The challenge for brands becomes producing custom content at scale without breaking the budget. Demands for content continuously outweigh internal capabilities, often requiring brands to leverage agencies to scale production. Unfortunately, as demands for more content rise, so too does the amount of time, resources, and money marketers must spend to manage the production of all that content.

Marketers must get bang for their buck with agencies

According to PQ Media, brands are expected to spend $300 billion per year on content marketing by 2019.

If your marketing team is putting a premium on content production, you’re more likely to be successful in content marketing. The 2018 B2C Budgets, Benchmarks, and Trends report - jointly produced by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs - says the most successful brands commit at least one-quarter of their total marketing budget towards content production.

One-quarter of your annual marketing budget is a lot of money to spend on content creation. You need to spend your budget wisely to maximize the value of content marketing.

When you collaborate with an agency to scale content creation, it becomes an expensive endeavor. But let’s refer back to a previous example for a moment.

Suppose you want to create both visuals and videos to market your brand, but you need two different agencies to create each content format. Paying for the services of two separate agencies will put a massive hole in your creative budget.

Ask yourself the critical question. Do you really have room in your budget to pay for the services of two or more creative agencies?

Think about how much content you need to create in the calendar year. There’s content on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and all other social platforms. There’s content for your website; content for banners, display ads, and even within your stores.

There’s a strong possibility that you’ll use different content formats for each channel. If you need an agency that specializes in each format to help create enough content, your ability to affordably scale production is significantly diminished.

Leverage technology and alternative creative solutions

You can offset some of these costs by incorporating more agile solutions into your creative process. Technology has come a long way, and you can leverage content creation platforms to produce more content at faster, scalable, and more affordable rates.
 

Eager to learn more about cost-effective and scalable solutions? Book a demo and speak to one of our specialists about how technological platforms stack up with traditional agency models to help you scale content production at agile and affordable rates.