Well, quite a considerable amount. Whilst in a traditional ATL setup you’ll find that rigorous data that substantiates an agency’s recommendations is quite hard to obtain and manipulate in order to stand up in court. As a result creative recommendations are based on research such as forums where ad concepts are tested on a small group of consumers in order to gauge a positive or negative reaction. This is usually conducted by a research agency which have been instructed and overseen by an ATL planner. Results are summarised and then feedback to the client with the agency’s point of view on how such concepts will create a particular image for the brand. However, client’s are now starting to view ATL agencies more as production houses where original ideas are then amended by the client in order to meet how they wish the advertising should look and feel. Some argue this is right considering that the client knows their brand better than any other and others feel this is wrong whereby the agency is the creative consultant and understands how the science of advertising works on consumers that and at the end of the day what agency wants to produce creative that doesn’t work? Therefore the work in ATL agencies is heavily reliant on ideas based outside of data and then are tested.
In terms of the work what you’ll find in the marketing services/BTL agency is that you micro manage projects. There is significantly more detail to cover and much more data to comprehend which is far more reliable when substantiating an agency’s recommendations. What I mean by this is that when on an account such as one in the retail sector your team is not only working towards creating new campaigns based on a client’s brief (pro active servicing) but you are also managing day to day client’s needs (re active servicing) such as maintenance of your client’s website which mainly consists of copy changes. The plus for the client is that they can brief an agency to change the copy on their homepage and this can be updated within a matter of hours. Outside of this you naturally gain a closer understanding of your client’s consumer and this is through heaps of data from footfall stats, to offer redemption stats to website traffic stats. So whilst it is therefore only natural that whilst going through the motions of your day to day activity you pick up a sharper picture of a client’s business along with the environment in which they touch consumers – the retail experience and what kind of POS they use i.e. where purchases are actually made.
The new trend of content marketing is quite an exciting industry sensation right now. With heavy restrictions on TV advertising and the risk of ill targeted BTL mediums (blanket DM drops, pop up digital banners) brands are now considering developing their own media platforms. What better way to get closer to your consumer than providing them with entertainment and have that media platform pay for itself? To elaborate, lets take publishing. You advise your client Levis to develop a monthly magazine. You bring in writers for articles in your magazine that are close to the brand so you develop content based around fashion, music and other youth trends. You can then approach other brands in line with yours (Apple for i-pod, Peugeot for the 206, The Tate Modern for innovative art etc) so they have an opportunity to advertising in your magazine….and they pay for the media space in exchange for your distribution channels of that magazine. So after printing and distribution you have a business model that not only creates a new platform for your brand (Levis magazine) but also it pays for itself through media sales. Furthermore, you control the access to your media platform so only brands that have a positive association are used in your magazine, this also means keeping your competitors out. If done right this is pretty much a huge area to exploit in the marketing service tool box. In terms of working, it’s creative, it’s entrepreneurial and it requires you to have your ear to the ground to what consumers are doing in their day to day life and where their interests lie. Other examples of content are events such as Innocent smoothies holding Fruit Stock in Regent’s Park.
So there is vast difference in what these agencies do and how they do it. The question now faced is how do you bring these together? How do you tie this offering under one roof and hand a client over the table a fully stitched together proposal of recommendations on every level. Will the agency of the future have account handlers, planners and creatives that are able to converse in all these mediums rather than having a specialist over here and another over there?