Double Standards: Will tablets be the big opportunity for digital?

As we hear of the mind-boggling projections for adoption of 3G and of the sales of tablets, Jagadeesh Krishnamurthy wanted to know if this was what the digital agencies were waiting for: a chance to prove that they're better

Santosh Padhi (L) and Max Hegerman (R)
Santosh Padhi (L) and Max Hegerman (R)

Santosh Padhi, chief creative officer and co-founder, Taproot India

Max Hegerman, president, Tribal DDB India
Is the tablet an opportunity for digital agencies to outdo traditional agencies?

SP: I don’t think so. The way India is placed currently, there is space for everyone today, be it digital agency, traditional big or small agency or any other form of specialist agency related to adverting and marketing. There are some of the nation’s biggest clients for whom traditional agencies and traditional mediums have been working superbly for them. I feel things won’t change drastically in coming 2 to 3 years for sure. But, in some category we will definitely see a shift.
MH: I would not say “outdo”, but it does provide another screen with which digital agencies (or tech-savvy traditional shops) have to work. Much like its smaller cellular sibling (the iPhone), the iPad provides the opportunity to develop communications, tools and applications for a wired consumer on the go – who is more than open to brand messaging when it is delivered in new, sexy ways.
Are digital and traditional agencies focused on increasing their creative and technical prowess respectively?

SP: Creativity is the core of our business, be it digital, design, traditional etc. and will continue to be in more demand. That’s what has made a difference to the brands in last few years and will continue flexing its muscle in the coming years as well. So there will be a great demand and vacuum as more and more clients and the market place is demanding for the same, so to retain and get fresher creative minds in our business will be a challenge in the coming years.

MH: It seems most people within our industry have come around to the notion that digital is, 1.) not going away, and, 2.) quietly becoming a valuable brand building tool, by means of its ability to engage consumers and create meaningful communities around specific target groups. Both digital and traditional shops have, for a while now, been engaged in adding to their technical chops – although it seems there have been two schools of thought. The first (which is, in large part, the digital approach) is to find and/or curate technical talent to add to their teams, or to strategically align themselves with key technical partners for back-end development and maintenance. The second, which I have seen more and more from traditional agencies is digital outsourcing – the passing of all digital-related duties to an aligned digital partner. Both approaches work, however, from my perspective, technology is often integral to the digital creative idea. So, the further technology gets from the original strategic direction and/or creative approach, the higher the risks, in terms of integration and executional break-downs.

What are the key areas in which a digital / traditional agency can outperform each other?

SP: Each one of them have their own strength today, which is the reason clients are with these respective guys. More and more bigger agencies are getting into the digital space, which is nothing but getting ready for coming years. On the other hand, I don’t think too many digital guys are moving into the traditional space that aggressively. So I feel more and more digital agencies will keep proving them in coming years and the big networking traditional agencies will keep buying them for their future income.
MH: Each type of agency has its areas of expertise. Traditional shops typically have the organization and teams in place (based on revenues and margins) to surround a client and his/her business needs – and the expectation that those needs will be addressed strategically. Ideally, in a more traditional environment, a big idea is generated and tactics identified – with the digital elements being considered/developed/executed by digital appropriate partners. Whereas, for the most part, digital agencies are seen less as strategic assets then technology specialists. My approach has been to blend strategy with digital understanding in order to bring to the table ideas that blur the lines between online and offline – ideas that most traditional agencies in India could not conceive and/or develop on their own.
Will we see a lot of collaborations between digital and traditional agencies for creating ads on tablets?

SP: Ideally that will be a great combination, but our past record may prove me wrong.
MH: I certainly hope so. It would be good for everyone involved – as long as strategically, both shops are in synch.

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