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Futureproof Your IHA Through External Partnerships

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Futureproof Your IHA Through External Partnerships

A common challenge that in-house agencies (IHAs) have always faced is difficulty in training and hiring the talent they need to pull off excellent creative. Unfortunately, this strain doesn’t seem to be going away. According to a survey by the ANA, 44% of US IHAs cite attracting top-tier talent as a primary creative content concern. And it’s not just about merely acquiring talent: an even bigger challenge they face lies in keeping their talent energized.

It’s no surprise, then, that so many external partnerships for IHAs revolve around two key capabilities: executing ideas in new and interesting ways, or offering access to specialized skillsets. Both are key in today’s digital landscape, which is defined as an age of hyperadoption, in which users adopt and drop new behaviors at an unprecedented rate. In addition to all of the channels that are cropping up, you don’t even know which will stick around a few years down the line.

As brands gauge the next big channels they’ll use to connect with consumers, they must adopt new digital skillsets in lockstep. But given the talent concerns mentioned above, how can IHAs keep up with these shifting user behaviors? The answer lies in new breeds of partnership that give IHAs the skills and tools they need to fulfill the brand promise in ways that not only stand out and “wow” consumers, but make sense to them.

Stand Out by Innovating Strategically

In his talk at the IHAF Conference this week, which brings together and celebrates hundreds of in-house agency professionals, Forrester analyst Jay Pattisall discussed the importance of creative differentiation. Most digital experiences look and feel the same, opening an opportunity for brands to stand out through best-in-class creative. Fitting well within the conference’s theme of “Futureproof,” Pattisall set his focus on recent shifts in the creative landscape, and where IHAs fit within it.

Monk Thoughts Differentiated creative combines an understanding of culture with real, heavy-lifting business impact that drives real bottom line value.

IHAs have thrived thanks in part to their unrivalled brand knowledge; they understand the purpose, intricacies and nuances of their brand. As Darren Abbott, SVP, Creative at Hallmark said while noting the power of IHAs to their brands: “We’re not part of Hallmark, we make it Hallmark.”

Yet executing their vision in an environment that encompasses so many emerging channels can be tough. New partnership models that aim to augment in-house teams’ understanding of technology, or that push them to think in new ways, can aid in both forecasting future opportunities and identifying the best channels available today for bringing the brand experience to life.

magnum template

AR, like this Snapchat game we made for Magnum Ice Cream, is loved by users and easily accessible for brands.

If you’re intrigued by some of today’s emergent technology, consider putting it through what MediaMonks Founder and COO Wesley ter Haar calls the “trend lens.” Discussed in his skill session at the IHAF Conference, “Extending Beyond the Horizon,” ter Haar described the trend lens as a strategy through which you can gauge the maturity of emerging tech as it rises up—or drops off from—the hype curve. It’s how we help brands arrive at solutions that best fit their capabilities and needs.

Let Your Brand Story Drive Tech Investment

The assessment specifically measures how a technology or platform meets user behavior (what consumers are doing with it) and distribution (how widely it’s adopted). VR, for example, isn’t distributed among consumers as well as AR is; this makes the former more ideal for installations and trade shows, while the latter serves as a popular way for consumers to simultaneously connect with brands and communicate with friends on mobile.

The trend lens works because it asks brands to really consider how their audience naturally behaves on a given channel. But brands must ensure that the creative idea is aligned with a clear business goal. At MediaMonks, for example, we don’t strive to sell brands on whatever the hot, novel technology of the day is. Instead, we experiment to push technology to its limit ourselves, then pay those learnings forward to help brands approach emerging tech strategically and tell their stories the best way they can.

Again, an IHA’s strength stems from its passion and knowledge of the brand. External partnerships that challenge their approach to creative and assess new opportunities granted by emerging tech are essential for futureproofing and connecting with consumers as the digital landscape continues to evolve.

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