The Drum Magazine South West Agency Feature

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AUK Drum Interview

From St Ives to Swindon and Bournemouth to Bristol, The Drum recently spoke to some of the South West’s top creative marketing agencies. Here we find out the current state of the industry in the region, what big changes have taken place, and what sectors are in decline or growth. Read more at TheDrum here The Drum.

What is the state of the creative marketing industry in the South West?

Saman Mansourpour, managing partner, AgencyUK: The creative marketing industry in the South West is ever buoyant. A centre for digital excellence, which now makes up a high percentage of client spend means that the regions early adoption of digital technologies, and investment in digital education and people as a whole, largely helped by the universities of Bath and Bristol (UWE), means many choose to stick around, or at least return post London.

In addition there has been a lot of agency consolidation since the 2008 economic crisis. The region saw a number of mergers and acquisitions, as well as distressed purchases. This has left fewer mid-size agencies today, propped up the revenues of larger agencies and led to an influx in the number of start-ups. Many people have chosen to pursue freelance careers, and the more successful one’s have flourished organically into small businesses. The clients appetite for smaller providers seems to have grown in line with niche requirements, and roster consolidation has seemingly squeezed out many of the mid-size agencies, leaving large and small.

The continuing change in agency structure has meant that permanent recruitment of quality talent is more difficult than ever, as many choose to remain with long-term employers or pursue a more lucrative but short-term contract or freelance career. A shortage in full time staff, and reliance on contractors does mean that margins can be squeezed.

Have there been any big changes in the past year?

We have been building on the good work that we have done since 2008, many of it first-in-class campaigns using new and emerging technologies, and used our proven track record to focus our expertise on how we grow. We have bolstered our strategy and planning teams in line with our clients needs and increased our focus on integrated communications. Real time test and learn campaign scenario’s enabled by the ever measurable digital channels has been a quick transition for most of our clients and relatively risk free. We are for the first time able to operate in a truly integrated way where striving for efficiency is everything and brand and creative are the differentiator.

Are there any areas or sectors in growth or decline?

We’re investing heavily in our digital media and development departments. This is simply a reflection of where our clients interests and budgets lie, and where the consumer is moving. Mobile is a consideration on every brief we receive and recommend, and technologically future-proofing campaigns is front of mind for us and our clients. Many of our client organisations are focused on becoming consumer-centric, some adopt and adapt, others resist, largely due to their antiquated processes, procedures and backend systems, but all have recognised that the future of how people buy, sell and support is changing forever.

Print and offline media is still declining, with the their affiliated budgets being diverted into infrastructural change and online lead generation. And interestingly budgets allocated to content generation, particularly for online has steadily risen. Clients are looking for new and alternative ways to be front of their audiences mind, and much of it relies on new and exciting content delivered relevantly and regularly. This has meant that in recent years our film and photography budgets have increased and become more regular, as has copywriting. The lines between advertising, and PR seem to be increasingly blurred, largely due to the onset of social media. We predict interactive video will become a focus ahead of 4g, and budgets will once again shift from editorial to live action.

Read more at The Drum