Bisnis Indonesia 2012

Digital media complexity &  basic business economics

For anyone who takes their digital media service department seriously, they’d know that the cost and production effort to provide Digital creative and other such related services is far more complex and pricier than any form of traditional media advertising, an emergent reality that’s realised globally. And this is not likely to change in the near future due to the varying technological platforms that seem to pop up in the marketplace all too frequently.

It’s been said, you can hear the screams and wails of pained programmers in the dead of the night when you stop to listen quietly. However illogical as it may seem, many agencies in the local marketplace seem to forget or ignore this as a reality, therefore there is a continual influx of mediocre products and services being poured out like an overworked sewer due to the lack of support towards maintaining one’s own industry.

It bewilders me the sad reality that there are millions of designers, and so few worthy programmers, simply said contemporary and experienced programmers are in huge demand. And yet there seems to be a bypass to this fact along with appropriately designating a true value associated with their service. Essentially digital media developers and first-grade economists are shooting themselves in the foot. Why?

There are a number of ways that advertisers, marketers, consultants, salespeople, designers, developers and their agency owners can help to create an effective, efficient relationship and control these commonly related costs, I’ll briefly go over some of them. It usually starts with communication and a little research to get a basic heads up on the whole thing and to finally prepare an agreement whereby implementation of these realities follows basic business logic.

Being acquainted with some of the backend aspects and discussing them is the first step. Individual divisions, business groups and local markets will need to understand the funding dynamics of the Digital arena. This is true for finance departments and account managers involved in staffing/fee discussions due to the nature of effort and activity involved in the development process.

There should be a breakdown of organisational silos to correspond with the decrease or increase of media budgets and costs, although it may seem more effective to separate these departments into nice tidy little units, they both need to be able to adjust to market shift appropriately.

Flexibility needs to be considered and discussed with regularity to adjust and redirect strategy and planning related to staffing/fees, scope and production to face fluctuation of the market shift and unfortunately to some client whims and desires, accommodating to their individual special needs. It is common for many organisations and partners to face such difficult issues related to making budgetary readjustments and reconsiderations.. after the fact.

Resist the temptation to involve all parties into the mix, just because they are somehow related or simply because they all want a piece of the pie. No doubt it’s easy to understand the desire for all members wanting to be involved. It does, however, decrease the overall agencies efficiency, more so if an agency introduces partnered associates offering cross-tier services, it confuses the issue for all involved on so many levels.

True professionals will understand that effective management of sales, services or program development requires strategic and expert control. Staff and members should also understand the nature and impact it will have upon the cost of the overall individual product. Thus instilling the natural ideals related to profitability and quality service.

Be smart. From a financial perspective, the transition of digitalising should follow realistic expectations regarding investment with a focus towards activities involving critical sales drivers and initiatives and to tightly control those costs, be it dependant on localisation or globalisation. For agencies trying to pump out as many applications as they can, though it may seem logical to utilise the true innovation and integration that the web theoretically provides, the products may be irrelevant and could impact negatively financially.

As for deciding to go with outsourcing or in-house production, recommendations may not be in the best interest for all clients and or members especially, if there is an expectation in delivering strategic conceptualisation, technology and other such. The double-bladed sword comes into play when getting locked into offering in-house production that delivers cheap standardised digital applications like simple landing pages and banner advertising versus groundbreaking digital experiences that come with issues related with ill management and distance during the collaboration of creativity.

Be efficient. There is a frustrating need to constantly remind ourselves to focus on the job and not so much on time-wasting meetings that serve little purpose but to appease someone’s ego. Let’s face it, we live in an age of technology where we can chat with granny across the planet, online, for free or we can simply let our fingers do the walking by using a phone. It’s not a new invention. Use it, and refrain from wasting valuable time that impacts the ability to deliver a truly valuable service. That goes for both parties, client and agency alike.

And finally, due to the awesome nature of the web, there is a huge tendency to overdo it with regards to offering fully complex dynamic real-time sites capable of streamlining all kinds of marketing capabilities such as integrating user tracking systems, report generation, CRM functions etc. They should only be offered if they are affordable and make sense. For the most part, just keep it simple.

There are numerous methods and rationales to consider with regards to delivering expert services involving digital strategy.  The challenge is proactively advancing beyond immaturity and ensuring your people are brutally aware of all aspects related. Internally and externally, to all members and participants associated to improve this advancing complex industry as a whole and to clear away the mist that distorts the way in which digital is perceived. Good luck.

First Published in Bisnis Indonesia Magazine - 2012