By GERTON BEJO, CEO at Vatra Agency
Owing to the great development of the Internet, social media, telephony and technology of information and communication as a whole, like many other industries even the advertising industry has been and is undergoing a redevelopment process in the last few years. These changes have affected every structure of the industry by changing the traditional production and message dissemination methods, as well as consumer behavior. Adaptation, survival, and success in a daily-changing market have become great challenges for marketing agencies in Albania especially with respect to digital advertising.
Prior to the provision of Internet access to everybody, advertising messages were broadcasted by means of limited media channels, such as television, newspapers, magazines, and radio. Information could be controlled and protected by the media industry and this type of regulator provided a type of balance among the parties involved in the process. However, even in Albania, the massive access to the Internet has changed the communication environment and has enabled consumers to be more active and involved with brands, which are the bread and butter of agencies.
Even in Albania, digital marketing in many cases is the foundation of marketing campaigns, and not simply one of their elements. Although this seems to have facilitated the campaign process, it has, in fact, emphasized the need to pay more attention and impose control on the campaign as a whole due to the full consumer inclusion with the brands. Nowadays, consumers have the power to share, raise their voices and spread their ideas via new channels, especially new generations born and raised during this age because their brains are programmed to easily accept, use and argue the digital methods. Vatra digital branch has been tackling these dynamics with special focus and attention in order to respond adequately to the challenges involved.
Due to the age, we are living in, some advertising agencies, including Vatra as a digital branding company, are now more involved in the strategic management of their clients. Prior to the development of social media, consumers’ opinions about products and services were shared among friends and families, and the only communication means with the brands were the telephone, fax, etc., and later on emails. This enabled agencies to better manage brands, their image and to control negative comments dissemination. Nevertheless, the chances to perform such control are limited due to the wide range of social media sites provided to consumers. Consumer influence has obliged corporations to be more transparent. It has made them more cautious because nowadays everything is documented and quickly disseminated to everybody. Big companies cannot ignore consumer power, but there are still several companies that are not completely aware of this influence, thus complicating the work of agencies in Albania with these clients even more.
It is worth noting that in the information age, the industry can be considered a real communication market because in the past messages were unilaterally disseminated by corporations via traditional methods, but other parties did not have or only had little voice on the matter. Consumer inclusion now is higher not only in message dissemination or campaigns but in every stage, which increases the responsibility of the persons who disseminate the messages. Digital media provide positive opportunities to measure and analyze, but the massiveness of social media makes it difficult for agencies to find the proper and right way to achieve the expected results for the benefit of the business. Nowadays, digital branding strategies have become indispensable in order to expect significant results.
In the past, the necessary competencies for an agency were related to management, scientific and artistic skills and now they include technical and digital skills. The Albanian market, along with its positive changes and emerging talents, still suffers from the low number of real digital marketing professionals.
Struggles to adapt to the age we are living in, have limited the work of many agencies because not all of them are able to adopt new potentials. Even though skills and knowledge in this area have been significantly enhanced, some traditional agencies still struggle with familiarizing themselves with the digital aspect of the situation, making their survival even more difficult. Although they often outsource their technical services, clients have started opting for shortcuts and directly contact the digital service agencies, thus overlooking and ignoring marketing agencies. This damages the communication chain and leads to consequences for the brand, due to the fact that being able to finance a text, image or video in social networks does not mean that the services of the agency have been provided because what is worth emphasizing, is not only the post content in terms of attractiveness but also in terms of strategy. However, all of this is part of the competition. The market favors the ones that adapt and provide quick, optimal, long-term quality choices.
From another perspective, in some cases, the lack of digital competences in agencies, sets free and facilitates ways of thinking and creating. Many agencies employ new media specialists because the leaders are directed more towards art and creativity than towards digital communication. More often than not, ideas may be more original and genuine when they are digital-free.
All these changes in technology, consumer behavior, business and communication culture have brought about complications in the advertising industry and the need to find new and creative ways and solutions for better results, a challenge that is being faced both successfully and unsuccessfully in Albania and other countries as well.