Media agencies to become increasingly important during the rise of AI: PHD strategists

In a world of developing technology and artificial intelligence, a panel of PHD strategists has agreed there will be an increasing, rather than a decreasing, need for strategists,

Speaking at Mumbrella360, Mitch Hunter, head of strategy at PHD Sydney, argued strategists will still have a huge role to play in connecting with humans.

Stewart Gurney, Mitch Hunter, Poma P. Malantic, Jessey Chew and Gareth O’Conner

“We are still going to need to inspire people, to help them to discover, and a role for us to be able to drive preference as they opt to make their own decisions,” Hunter said.

Poma P. Malantic, head of strategy at PHD Philippines said some of the oldest marketing strategies will remain the same.

“The oldest marketing tool there is, is still going to work in the future, which is word of mouth. A lot of trust, a lot of brand trust that we consult with other people, it is still going to be there,” he said.

When discussing the role strategists will be playing in the future and where their skillsets will sit in amongst artificial intelligence offerings, Jessey Chew, head of strategy and platforms at PHD Malaysia, said it would become more exciting.

“The role of a strategist in media will eventually become even stronger due to the fact of the exposure that we have, not just to the data but channels and platforms.

“It is this wholistic view that you get as a strategist in a media agency that allows you to curate relevant stories for consumers.

“We only have one role here, which is to influence the behaviour of consumers and if you are talking about consumers there is emotions involved and that is where the whole storytelling and creativity is how you tie everything together.

“We are in the best position because we have an eye on everything, so we have another head start from all the other players in the industry,” Chew told the audience.

The national head of strategy at PHD New Zealand, Gareth O’Connor, said strategists in media agencies need to harness their relationships with clients to cement their role in the future.

“We are in control of our own destiny, if you think of where we are now it has never been more confusing or more complicated to do what we do, so the role of a strategist has become increasingly more important.

“If you look at it from a client point of view, a good strategist can help navigate getting a client from here to here, and how we are going to that.

“Now is a perfect opportunity to try and take hold of that relationship, because we have a much bigger view because we understand a consumer, we understand how they are engaging with media and we understand channels they are using and what channels fit together and work together.

“It’s something most creative agencies don’t have, some do, but most don’t.

“We are already moving from a media agency that is normally low down on the list to the first people you speak to because you can start to see the value and how they navigate through the ever increasingly complicated [landscape],”the New Zealand strategist said.

Hunter suggested to the audience there may be a period of creative lull as the technology emerges and takes off, however, things will then start to normalise again and strategists will chase the same thing.

Malantic agreed: “It is more important to have that organic creativity in terms of brands, it’s all the more we need to connect to these younger ones because once they get to our age it’s just going to be a big difference in terms of how they do a lot of different things out there.”


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