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Industry snapshot with Initiative’s Lee Boden

Interview with Lee Boden, Managing Director, Initiative MENA

HOW IS THE MEDIA AGENCY MODEL CHANGING, AND WHY?
Firstly, the core role of media agencies has not changed. We exist to provide our clients with valuable advice and services that contribute to customer and revenue growth. What has changed is the nature of the advice and services we provide and how we are remunerated for those activities.
Increasingly, we see a greater demand for integrated teams that have technical, analytical and project management skills. We are also seeing a shift from indirect remuneration models to direct remuneration models. All in all, the inherent complexity of the current media landscape means that clients are more demanding of their media agency partners, but in return, with the right agency, they are willing to form a deeper and more open partnership.

HOW IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH CLIENTS AND CREATIVE AGENCIES CHANGING?
The simple answer is that our relationship with many of our clients and their creative agencies is changing for the better. The client/media agency relationship is evolving in the direction of transparency, trust and partnership. The media/ creative agency relationship is evolving in the direction of greater co-dependence. The combined evolution is that we are moving towards a more cooperative agency that is beneficial not only for our clients but also the individuals on those teams.

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES FACING THE INDUSTRY?
If I cast my mind back to the 2000s, there was this idea that digital media would be more efficient to manage than traditional media and that adtech would make the planner and buyer roles mostly obsolete. The hard truth is that digital campaigns are very labour-intensive; the myriad tech solutions available to marketers has introduced significant operational complexity; and as a result of this complexity, the skills of good planners and buyers who can translate a client’s business objective into an effective media campaign, regardless of channel,
are more in demand today than perhaps at any time in history. The single biggest challenge facing our industry is the direction of our innovation: Will it lead to further complexity or will we be able to innovate towards simplicity?

WHAT ADVANCES IN MEDIA ARE YOU MOST EXCITED ABOUT IN THE NEXT FEW YEARS?
As a consumer, I’m equally excited and nervous about what impact 5G networks, and increased connectivity, will have on society. Will I love my talking refrigerator that suggests my next grocery list, or will I miss the days when a refrigerator was just a fridge? Will I be satisfied as a passenger in a self-driving car or will I miss the sense of being in control of my destination? Perhaps most importantly, will a fully connected society deliver better outcomes for humanity and the planet, or worse?

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