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News Analysis 29 Mar 2022 - 4 min read

Content surge primes Big W, Myer, Suncorp to follow Nestlé, Dyson and Hollywood’s offshore model, push dynamic creative, personalisation beyond lower funnel drudge

By Brendan Coyne - Editor

Hogarth CEO Justin Ricketts on dynamic creative: "You don't turn on a modular mindset with a flick of the switch. You've got to redesign your process, your agency village and have the right tech stack in place. It's more complicated than people think."

Across every category and every channel, marketers are struggling to keep pace with runaway demand for content. The choices are pay a premium locally, offshore cheaply or hand over to the machines. Hogarth Worldwide CEO, Justin Ricketts, thinks Australian brands are "at a tipping point" when it comes to outsourcing and creative automation. Only those that completely rebuild creative planning processes will succeed, he warns, while retailer media ups the ante.

What you need to know:

  • Local brands like Big W, Myer, Vodafone and Suncorp likely to follow Nestlé, Dyson, Rolex in offshoring content grunt work.
  • Marketers have little choice, if they want to keep up with e-commerce and digital transformation, reckons Hogarth chief Justin Ricketts.
  • But Ricketts thinks vast majority of iterative ‘versioning’ should be automated, and says Australia at “tipping point.”
  • If brand marketers can ditch 30-second ad mentality and rebuild modular mindset from ground up, they can win.
  • Ricketts says more complex work now being offshored, and more mid-funnel activity being automated and personalised.
  • Reckons retailer media is a massive opportunity for brands – throughout funnel – says FMCG brands recognise all the upside.

I haven’t come across a single brand that doesn't see the opportunity to make their content more relevant. Equally, I haven’t come across a single client brand that hasn't got this problem of having to create more content faster with less budget,

Justin Ricketts, CEO, Hogarth Worldwide

Age of this content

Global brands Nestlé, Dyson and Rolex are offshoring increasing volumes of content creation, according to Hogarth Worldwide CEO Justin Ricketts. He thinks Australian brands must follow or fail to keep pace with content demand now threatening to overwhelm marketing teams across e-commerce, direct-to-consumer and retailer media channels.

As a result, Ricketts reckons Australia will be the fastest growing market for the WPP-owned firm globally in 2022.

“We’ll grow 30-40 per cent locally this year”, Ricketts told Mi3. That foreshadows the scale of broader market growth, and implies the “tipping point” for offshoring and closely related automation of content/creative has arrived, as brands try to navigate an output deluge while budgets, at best, remain stagnant.

“The global brands are already thinking and operating that way. Locally, I’d say we are at the start of that journey with the clients like Big W, Myer, Vodafone and Suncorp,” said Ricketts. “But the plan [for those local brands] is to identify the relevant streams of work that can be done – to the right quality and standard – leveraging our offshore capabilities.”

It’s no longer just the grunt work. Ricketts said the brands Hogarth is servicing globally are “moving up the pyramid” and sending “more complex streams of work offshore; editing, grading – colouring if you like”.

He says markets like India are now rich in post-production capability as Hollywood pushes deeper into offshoring models for services like CGI. Advertising, he suggests, will ultimately follow that path.

“It’s a definite trend,” said Ricketts, one that is closely tied to automated creative, which is also moving up the funnel. But in the meantime, he admitted, automating catalogues and out of home iterations are underwriting the bulk of those big growth calls.

Yet in the long run, that may change offshore dynamics altogether – because robots can live anywhere.

Dynamic ‘creative’

“Increasingly, the work that we are sending offshore can be done by a machine. I call it creative automation,” said Ricketts.

“Take catalogues, described by many of our clients as a ‘burning platform’. Catalogues remain highly relevant, because they still bring in loads of revenue… But it's a very manual process. It can take 14 weeks to put a catalogue together … while many people start to wonder if a catalogue has any future.”

Which is where “automatic templating” comes in.

“Locally, most brands are still building catalogues manually. But you can build a dynamic set of templates that can be automatically populated [by plugging into product feeds]”, rather than tasking humans with copying spec-sheets into boxes, said Ricketts.

“Anything that can be repeated or templated must be automated,” he said. “Versioning something in different languages or resizing or localising, or tweaking for local area marketing … all of that … AI and creative automation can do that work for you. Let it ... otherwise you just cannot and will not keep up.”

DCO divas

Yet some of Australia’s big brands have been put off dynamic creative, describing it as “a nightmare”.

Ricketts suggests that is because marketers are yet to grasp the fundamental change management programmes required to crack personalised messaging.

“I haven’t come across a single brand that doesn't see the opportunity to make their content more relevant. Equally, I haven’t come across a single client brand that hasn't got this problem of having to create more content faster with less budget,” said Ricketts.

“Where they are tripping up is that you don't fix that issue through a tweak. It's a significant problem – and opportunity – that requires a proper change management programme. You literally have to rethink how you go about creating an idea,” he added.

“Stop thinking about creating content for a channel, the shoot for a 30 second spot, and embed a modular mindset. Think: how do we take the new campaign idea long and deep and create assets upfront that keep it fresh, relevant and iterative over a period of time?” said Ricketts.

“If you can get that right, you go from a linear process of creating a small volume of assets made for a single channel, to creating an asset library with the right taxonomy and business logic that enables you to build ads through components and layers.”

It’s no cake walk, said Ricketts, but for marketers that put in the effort upfront, the rewards "are huge", he suggests.

“It means you can do faster and cheaper, but also increase ad effectiveness, because the message is going to be more relevant to the audience.

“You don't get to a modular mindset with a flick of the switch. You've actually got to redesign your process, redesign your agency village and have the right tech stack in place. It's more complicated than people think. Hence some people and some brands have become stuck. But the progressive brands are driving change.”

Supermarket sweep

Next stop, said Ricketts, is retailer media, with Coles now entering the fray alongside Woolworths and Cartology.

“These retail media channels or platforms are much closer to that point of purchase, whether that's online or in-store – and they are bringing access to data” said Ricketts.

“It's an incredibly smart move by the likes of Woolies and Coles. Those channels are going to become increasingly powerful and more relevant.”

Both FMCG brands and retail media operators will also undoubtedly require greater digital content production, automation and efficiency in a bid to fend off local rivals and global platforms.

Where that ends up will prove instructive.

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Brendan Coyne


Market Voice

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