CommBank: Agencies can't do big data

The Commonwealth Bank’s chief marketing and online officer, Andy Lark, has raised concerns about the agency sector continuing to struggle with big data and technology developments but said a new generation of firms would emerge to take a lead role.

Speaking to AdNews after he featured prominently at the Dreamforce technology and social media conference in San Francisco recently, Lark said marketers needed to adjust to a new world where technology and technology experiences would “define your brand”. He said most marketers would likely make the transition but he was not convinced about traditional agencies.

“If you are a chief marketing officer that only understands the ads and managing agency relationships, it’s a new world,” he said. “I think most CMOs are smart people so they will morph and change pretty quickly. But I do think it will pose a big problem for the agency world because agencies are going to have to become far more adept at building and translating technology propositions and be held accountable for how that technology performs in the market. So did you get the number of downloads you were expecting, did you get the number of customer interactions you were expecting on an app? It becomes the ultimate accountability engine.”

Although many independent and multinational agencies have been talking up their transition to social, big data and technology capabilities, Lark said it “wasn’t very deep” for the most part.

“There are clearly some agencies working hard to get there but it is a difficult journey for the traditional agency. So many of our agency models are built around quite traditional organisational structures so it is hard for them to rethink their entire business model,” he said. “There are some trying to do that. A good start would be for agencies to really understand that social does not just equal Facebook. Social involves listening and having conversations.”

Lark said he expected to see a new generation of agencies take a lead role because they would be adept at big data, social and digital.

“Big ideas will still win but there are only a few of us who still have the big budgets to go with big ideas, so you’re going to need to be very good at multi-channel and social and a new generation of agencies is going to emerge who are world class at it,” he said. “They will lead with strategy, digital and social and then partner externally for TV and other stuff.”

This article first appeared in the 5 October 2012 edition of AdNews, in print and on iPad. Click here to subscribe for more news, features and opinion.

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