The Agency of the Future is an Algorithm: Razorfish-Contagious seminar @CannesLions2015

24 Jun,2015

By Dyanne Coelho


There’s absolutely no point sticking to the rules anymore. The last decade has changed the way marketing works in our industry and the growth of the digital space has created more opportunities, more expectations and more solutions. But how prepared are we for what comes next? While we talk of the ever increasing pace of change, it’s clear that what matters is not so much what we know about the future, but how we adapt to it. A well-worded introduction, set the pace for the seminar entitled ‘Toolkit for Transformation’with Ray Velez, Chief Technology Officer, Razorfish Global and Will Sansom, Director, Content and Strategy, Contagious Communications.


“Is it just us or have we reached a point where the industry has hit pause,” Sansom asked. “We carry devices in our pocket now that have more processing power than the super computers that put man on the moon. Statistics suggest, that young people switch media platforms over 25 times an hour,” he said.

“Technology breeds technology, and innovation breeds innovation. Knowing about the future isn’t enough; you also need to plan on how to adapt to it,” Velez added.


We think in the future, brand loyalty will become extinct, Sansom revealed. According to him, we’ve never been better enabled andequipped to switch between brands no matter the category. Research shows that there is about $6.2 trillion in revenue to be made from people switching loyalty from one brand to another. This is now being called the switching economy. This is proof that brand loyalty is becoming extinct, they discussed.


We have more choice now. A lot of the new generation start-ups that are now huge global multibillion dollar companies are all about giving us more choice, Sansom explained. “We have more information at our disposal, comparison sites, reviews, social media, and from a trusted network we can tap into it any time we need it.”


A major study that Razorfish conducted into cross-channel experiences and loyalty across four key markets – US, UK, Brazil and China, found that word of mouth and online reviews were the greatest influencers of purchase decisions. This led to the next point of ‘Considered Consumption’. This includes decisions consumers make based on how much they know about the brand, like their ethical practices, their carbon footprint etc. For example, the company Sir Richards is a new contraceptive company. For every condom that they sell in the Europe or US, they donate one condom to developing markets specifically those where sexually transmitted diseases are a vital problem. There are a lot of companies like this now, because consumerslike to spend money with good brands, but also like to spend money on brands that do good, they suggested.


“In our opinion, one of the biggest contributors to brand loyaltyis the fact that we celebrate the self. And we live in an age where we’re equipped and encouraged particularly through social media to promote who we are as individuals. But brands are not treating us as individuals. For far too long brands are relying on flawed segmentation processes that market to demographics, but they don’t market to me,” Velez pointed out.


Crucially customers increasingly want a relationship with a brand that feels more personal. Razorfish asked in a study how important is it that brands provide a product or service that feels like it was made just for you? Close to two-thirds of the respondents wanted just this. “It’s a challenge, but we believe the solution is in data. Data is how we listen to our customers. If we’re not using data, we’re in essence ignoring our customers. In the end data gives us that roadmap on how to reach customers on a one-to-one basis,” Velez added.


The speakers divulged a few tools that are essential when dealing with the problem of a fading consumer loyalty. For one, design around them, not around your short-term sales targets. People are migrating towards brands that treat them like individuals, they said. Secondly as far as creativity is concerned, disrupt your business, not just your advertising and for organisational change, make a commitment to being in beta. In the future the unconnected world will need connecting, Sansom pointed out.


A McKinsey study showed that even by 2017, close to 4.2 billion people will still be unconnected, or will remain offline; that’s roughly half the world’s population. Velez revealed. “For consumers, educate and enable before advertising,” he said.


For creativity, think beyond browsers, for organisational change, let the needs of the unconnected guide the future of your business, Sansom suggests.


“Great brands will liberate us from our screens. The connected today face a fatigue from being too connected to screens,” Velez explains. We ought to design for the human interface, not for the screen. The internet is not the screen, Sansom added.


The agency of the future will be an algorithm, the speakers discussed. We’d be kidding ourselves if we thought that industries aren’t about efficiency, about making things better, faster, cheaper. Are we ever going to get to a point where an algorithm could create a whole piece of advertising from start to finish, by itself?


“Imagine dealing with a creative director who is an algorithm. He literally knows all the answers,” Sansom said. But does that mean that we will be out of jobs? Not at all, he says, but what we do is going to change, and it will free us up of mundane tasks, it will be better.


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