Q&AAF: Raphael Rivilla on the Evolving Client/Agency Relationship

12102501-standardRaphael Rivilla, Partner, Media and Connections Planning at Marcus Thomas LLC, describes having the right specialists at the table is critical as the agency model continues to change.

Q: What is one of the biggest challenges ad agencies are facing today?

Agency of record (AOR) relationships are becoming less and less popular — forcing agencies to scramble to be the right size to remain profitable within the new project-driven reality.

The growth of project-driven, best-of-breed specialist work can also be attributed to brands building their in-house agencies and no longer needing an AOR. These in-house agencies are replacing the AOR for brand control and are seeking out the best specialists to execute their ideas.

Q: How can agencies thrive and grow when clients appear to less and less interested in AOR relationships and more interested in seeking agencies for project engagements?

A: Expand those engagements by infusing your project solution with cross-channel thinking.

Say you’re bidding on a digital project to revamp a brand website.You pull together your digital team — front-end, back-end, creative and digital strategy for the pitch. You answer the brief and your solution looks great. But what about driving traffic? What about maintaining traffic and organic rankings?

It’s a perfect opportunity to bring new ideas and expose your expertise. SEO should be roped in to inform site architecture and to mitigate organic traffic loss. With SEO comes additional connected touchpoints to drive and safeguard traffic.

Paid search is a targeted, very efficient channel that can be used to augment organic traffic while SEO signals grow. Review site-tracking tools to inform your paid-search approach; analyze keywords that drive high-quality traffic that could protect your client’s business during a site redesign.

What about content? Re-purpose it into bite-sized, cross-platform pieces distributed natively and through other social touchpoints to drive traffic, while increasing social signals (another strong factor for SEO). Now, your agency’s role includes search, social and paid media.

Q: How can smaller agencies grow to offer cross-channel thinking?

A: Agencies should expect more on the table when hiring. When hiring subject-matter experts, look for T-shaped skills: the vertical bar on the T represents the depth of related skills and expertise in a single field, whereas the horizontal bar is the ability to collaborate across disciplines with experts in other areas and to apply knowledge in areas of expertise other than one’s own.

This post was adapted from Raphael’s editorial piece Surviving The Anti-AOR Age With Cross-Channel Thinking” with his permission.

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