Digital advertising won’t survive without better creative | Mumbrella360 video

According to Karmarama's Ben Bilboul, in the age of digital, people are simply “retargeted, retargeted and retargeted”. Here, he considers what needs to change for advertisers to succeed.

During this session from Mumbrella360, boss of UK creative agency Karmarama heralds a new age for creatives and marketers, warning advertising needs to lift its game in an era of ad blocking, poor customer experiences and growing consumer apathy towards brands.

Ben Bilboul says it’s critical that marketers, brands and agencies become more creative – particularly in the digital arena where he argued creativity has not been up to scratch – and address customer experiences which he described as “disconnected”.

Bilboul, whose agency was acquired by Accenture Interactive at the end of last year, also acknowledged that the agency model is under threat and has allowed itself to become too commoditised.

He lists the rise of in-house trading desks and in-house creative teams and “trust issues” between agencies and clients as threats to the agency model, while advertising has suffered from a lack of creativity.

“We believe the early stage of digital marketing has not been creative enough,” he tells delegates. “It has not been empathetic enough or innovative enough and it’s leading to some of these reactions.

“The worrying thing is the younger the audience, the more likely they are to ad block, and it’s particularly an issue on mobile because they don’t like that experience being interrupted.”

People are being “retargeted, retargeted and retargeted”, Bilboul said.

“Just because you have someone’s information online doesn’t mean you should bombard them with that pair of shoes every time they open the website or open an email. The quality of the comms is just not where it needs to be.”

But he predicts there will be a “new wave” of customer experiences, with virtual reality to play a key role.

Addressing the exodus of creative talent to Google and Facebook, Bilboul says agencies have simply priced themselves too low which has impacted wages.

“We haven’t charged enough for our services, we have let ourselves become too commoditised and are too far down the food chain,” he says, adding that agencies have become “production partners not strategic partners”.

Bilboul: “The worrying thing is the younger the audience, the more likely they are to ad block”

“As a result we have not been able to pay our people properly. Starting salaries in the UK agency are around £20,000, yet if you go and work for a consultancy it’s £40,000 to £50,000.

“Whether you want to be a creative or not, it’s quite hard to say ‘I am not going to take that extra £30,000’.”

Earlier in his address, Bilboul flags a remuneration model with one of his clients – a car manufacturer – where Karmarama receives payment partly based on the number of vehicles sold.

Moderator Jules Hall, chief executive of The Hallway, says it’s a model Australia needs to adopt.

“We need to get to a remuneration model that is linked to outcomes that we are driving, because that is the evidence of the value we are delivering,” he says.

When asked about Karmarama’s relationship with the car firm, Bilboul says it has “completely changed the way the organisation views us”.

Turning to Karmarama’s acquisition by Accenture Interactive last year, Bilboul says the structure will allow the agency to maintain its creative flair while Accenture will be able to deliver that creativity “at scale”.

A combination of the “left and right brain” and rejected claims that a clash of cultures between “suits and creatives” will emerge.


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