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Agencies To Aim Big In 2021

Impact of remote working, heightened relevance of digital, deeper integration of technology and bringing businesses back to normalcy are some of the key areas that will take center stage in 2021 for ad/media agencies

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Come 2021 and agencies will experience pandemic-driven changes in their potency and operations. But will it impact the size and scale of the teams? 

"While teams themselves might not decrease in size, they might become a little fragmented in terms of physical presence. Wellbeing has most definitely taken center-stage in 2020, and shall continue in the years to come,” says Anju Kurien, Talent Director, Omnicom Media Group India.   

Agrees Chetan Asher, Co-founder & CEO, Tonic Worldwide. “Teams will not get smaller but diverse and rather larger. With remote working, geographical boundaries have blurred and talent acquisition is location agnostic,” he adds. 

Being the captain of the ship, Sumanto Chattopadhyay, Chairman & Chief Creative Officer, 82.5 Communications looks forward to putting together bespoke teams from across branches and disciplines to best serve their clients. “Collaborate or else, get rid of your ego or get out. I think that’s the writing on the wall for our talent. Individuals need to cooperate far more closely than ever before. Geography is now history,” he adds.   

What will be the role of technology? 

With acceleration in digital transformation, technology replacing talent remains open to debate. Nitin Naresh, Managing Director, Magnon\TBWA says, “Of course, technology is supporting never-thought-before levels of enablement and efficiency. However, let the tail not wag the dog. We will always need storytellers, concept sellers and maverick business pitchers to make the business happen, all backed by tremendous levels of data & technology.”   

Virat Tandon, Group CEO, MullenLowe Lintas Group says it is not about replacing talent with technology, but alarming people with it. "People have become much more accepting of technology as long as it helps them do their job better," he adds. 

"Blended Mix of - Retention of Performance Oriented Talent + E2E Automated solutions," suggests Sharad Alwe Co-founder and CEO, Update Geotarget.

What will qualify as 'Essential'? 

The construct of business costs has changed to a good extent during 2020. Significant spending are being made into enabling uninterrupted WFH, right down to arranging work chairs, Wi-Fi, and UPS at homes.   

“Spending only on essentials is always good for business. In times like these, focus on what the priority is and invest/spend wisely. As Warren Buffett says- “If you buy things you do not need, soon you will have to sell things you need,” says Neena Dasgupta, CEO & Director, Zirca Digital Solutions.       

Kurien of Omnicom Media Group India points to how the definition of ‘essentials’ is reshaping itself, pushing agencies to invest in their people more. "Despite logistical cost-cuts, agencies will have to focus on employees and their priorities," she adds. 

Will we see the emergence of a stronger 'Phygital' world in 2021? Will that compel businesses to rebuild their digital infrastructure and evolve the digital consumer touchpoints? 

Chattopadhyay of 82.5 Communications roots for a radiant future for digital. He says, “Demonetization pushed people towards digital payments. Covid has pushed us towards digital ‘everything’: Shopping, entertainment, doctor consultations, learning, and what-have-you. You want to experience the world and yet be insulated—in your home, your fortress.”  

Mihir Karkare, EVP, Mirum India adds, "MarTech, AdTech, Use of AI / ML in Creative and Media – these are going to become increasingly important in the coming years, and the revenue streams emerging out of this demand will be key for growth."

Experts anticipate that agencies in the future will witness marketing automation and hyper-personalization, emerging as strong revenue streams, as businesses look at refining their digital touchpoints and serve their consumers in a new digital-first world. Clients, on the other hand, will expect agencies to deliver data-led strategies and insights and through the funnel, integrated campaigns. Network agencies that have these capabilities and can deliver a well-stitched product that will earn respect and premium, experts add.