With a deep digital advertising expertise and strong background in marketing strategy, client leadership and digital media development, Cora Diaconescu (head of Digital al Tribal Worldwide Romania) managed campaigns for worldwide top clients, specializing in developing integrated and digital communication that drive consumer interaction and facilitate achieving business goals. She talked with Business Review about the agency’s road in 2017, the expectations for 2018, market trends and the local industry connected to the international scene.
By Romanita Oprea
How was 2017 for the agency in terms of turnover /revenues?
2017 for Tribal Worldwide was great on all fronts. We managed to achieve all objectives that we have set for us at the beginning of the year in terms of revenue, employee satisfaction, and new business.
What were the departments that were most successful? What about the least successful ones?
We, at Tribal, have a different approach when it comes to performance evaluation within the agency. We are a genuine team that even though is split into different departments, we share all our moments of success as well as all moments in which we need a different take on things. In our agency, departments can’t coexist one without the other, collaboration and teamwork are essential elements that ignite our internal mechanism.
What about the pitches entered?
Tribal has continued the new business direction it has set in 2016, winning more than 70 percent of the pitches it has attended over the past year. The last quarter of 2017 was the most successful one, as we achieved an unprecedented performance of winning five consecutive pitches and thus, proudly adding five new great brands to our partnership portfolio, among them being Heineken and Bitdefender.
How would you characterize the local advertising industry in 2018 in terms of budgets, campaigns, creativity etc.?
As we have just started 2018, it is a bit premature to make assumptions regarding the entire advertising industry over the upcoming year. Nevertheless, in terms of campaigns, we expect the online influencer trend to continue its’ ascension also in 2018. What we think will be different though, will be the approach towards influencer campaigns. Hopefully, in order to maximize performance and also support content creators, agencies and brands will integrate the advertised product/service in a more natural and holistic approach towards the already existing content on that specific channel. We expect to no longer see the industry players use online influencer channels just as a new medium for ads.
In terms of creativity, our local industry does not lack talent, but it lacks the correct usage of this talent. And this tendency will, most likely, be continued over 2018. Hopefully, in 2018, if digital agencies will have a more stable financial predictability they will be able to invest more into their teams and into the development of their skills. Luckily as the industry shifts its focus more and more towards digital, it also shifts part of its budgets to it, thus offering the possibility for growth and innovation within the digital advertising spectrum. And this shift translates directly into support and sustainability for digital advertising professionals.
What were the most important changes & novelties in the agency in 2017 and how did they come to happen?
2017 was not a year of changes and novelties for Tribal, it was more a year of growth and stability for our team and for our portfolio. We focused more on the consolidation of existing services, rather than adding a new one just for the sake of it. Most probably this approach was also possible because 2017 found Tribal to be well prepared in terms of team membership capabilities – our professionals cover most digital services: from dedicated digital project management, proficient social media, influencer management, digital creative services (UX, content development, video and animation editing) to front and backend development. The novelties though didn’t lack, but they resulted from the challenges our new client partners brought, when they decided after their pitching process, that we are the agency they want to work with.
What trends did you notice in the local market last year and how do you intend to follow them /represent them at your agency?
The digital ad market is still in a testing phase, depending on the product they sell or the service they provide, brands tend to follow different trends, related to their specific communication and automation needs. If I were to name a top three trends in terms of recurrence in briefs, these would be:
- Digital influencers – with a strong focus on vloggers and Instagrammers;
- Mobile apps – an app for everything, functional or fun, no matter the necessity, apps are finally taking their place in digital advertising;
- Digital Behaviourism – there is a specific need on the market for professionals who can predict user behaviours based on past campaign experiences and by also intersecting different types of data. It is still an upcoming trend and the agencies that will be prepared to offer their clients this type of know-how will be most definitely the agencies of the future.
For the first trend, we have already set in place a department of influencer management that has dedicated professionals with the necessary experience and connections to serve all types of communication needs via influencer endorsement.
For the second trend – mobile apps – we are one of the few digital agencies on the market who is lucky to have in-house development resources that can serve any client request in terms of mobile app development (Android & iOS).
The third trend is one that we are preparing to tackle more thoroughly in 2018. First of all, at the end of 2017, we created a different internal approach, regarding campaign reporting and analysis. More exactly, we build an internal real-time follow-up workflow that helps our strategy and creative teams be constantly up to date with the performance of a campaign they are working on. We noticed this necessity, after a series of campaigns that after they ended, the creative team that worked on them, didn’t have a follow-up in terms of results of the campaign, thus not knowing if what they proposed actually worked or not if it achieved the set objectives or not. Therefore, in order to maximize the learnings after each campaign and to facilitate our team the necessary knowledge for improvement, we set an internal workflow that helps all project members follow-up in real time with the performance and results of the campaign they are working on.
What do you foresee for 2018 from this point of view?
I foresee for 2018 a return to a more strategic approach of digital creativity, but a strategic approach that involves and uses a mix of user insight, behavioural understanding of online user journeys for each different device and data trail of user surfing and purchase history.
What is your goal for 2018 in terms of revenue, but also new clients, employees etc.?
Our most important goal for 2018, is to “stay hungry”; always striving for being better and one step ahead. This philosophy has driven us until now to constantly overcome all obstacles and will do so also in the future. In terms of revenue and new business, we plan on being overachievers, like we always plan at the beginning of each year. Regarding our team, we plan on further developing the influencer management department as well as adding some new fresh team members in the social media and creative department in order to tackle on all future new business accounts.
What do you wish for the local industry this year?
I wish for it to be more courageous, and I wish for it to believe that there can’t be innovation and differentiation in this industry without a certain dose of risk and assumption of unknown.
How do you see the Romanian market connected to the international one at this moment?
The Romanian market is still a few years behind the international one in terms of digital budgets as well as public response to digital ad-triggers. But the good news is that we are catching up fast. A few years ago, the digital components of an integrated campaign were reserved for the “nice to have” section of the presentations, now every client brief contains digital deliverables as a must have. There are still a few obstacles to overcome for the digital ad industry, the most important one of all being the comfort zone of the marketing mixes that have worked really well until now.
Where is the local industry still lacking and what can it be changed?
The local industry is still lacking an understanding of the role of digital advertising overall. The concept of a “digital campaign” is still an abstract notion for a considerable percentage of the industry. And this fact is reflected very clearly when it comes to digital requests within a brief: clients often struggle with whom they should call for help when it comes to digital communication needs: “is it a deliverable request that I should send to my ATL agency? or to my media agency? or maybe I should send it to my PR agency…”. This confusion is natural, and it was created by the evolution of the industry over the years.
A few years ago when digital deliverables were only a mean of amplification of other campaign materials, all existing agencies learned how to handle simple digital requests from clients, and have done so very successfully over the years. But things have changed and the digital possibilities have evolved and diversified and more and more digital advertising needs require specialized people to be involved from the starting point of the thinking process of an integrated campaign.
The marcomm industry in Romania still believes in splitting chunks of one campaign to different agencies that are part of different groups, thus creating the false sense of competitiveness between them. This approach has proven to be difficult to manage in reality, because competing agencies, work pretty hard together, compared to agencies that are part of the same group.
Thus, I think, that the future belongs to the companies that have the possibility to offer their clients a mixed team of professionals, a collaborative team that brings all skills to the table. This type of companies, not only facilitate, for their clients, the entire working process, but they also maximize efficiency in terms of time and costs. Furthermore, when you are part of a bigger structure, locally or internationally, your team members have access to a great amount of know-how and expertise that you can put to very good use in service of upcoming projects.
Tribal is a digitally centric global advertising agency, part of Omnicom international network and member of thegroup – the largest group of communication companies in Romania. The Tribal Worldwide Network is present in over 40 countries.