Chris Bear, Head of Multimedia Studio and Print Production, at Clemenger BBDO Sydney says, 2015 will see digital advertising ramping up – and studio managers and operators will need a variety of new skills to stay relevant.

“Multi-skilled” and “cross-channel” are just some of the words that describe a studio operator of today. According to Chris, a standard studio operator (or at least, one who is gainfully employed) can no longer expect to get by with just being a conventional finished artist.

The studio operator in the digital age

“We’ve got digital designers and Flash animators sitting within the studio. Basic Flash work is produced by any operator now, and flats are done by anyone, as it’s just basic Photoshop skill. The harder work obviously sits with more senior digital guys, but you are seeing a lot more crossover,” Chris said.

The message is to keep evolving and learning, and in the fast-changing digital world, this means keeping up with the latest tech demands from clients, anticipating required skills, and engaging in self-learning or training courses.

“Ongoing training is key to keeping in touch with the ever evolving digital beast. You simply can’t shut your eyes for 6 months or you will fall behind.”

“Something we’ve written into our senior operators’ KPIs for 2015, is that they will be expected to do courses and also self-learning for HTML5.”

The evolving studio manager

While traditionally, senior studio operators were eventually promoted to the studio manager roles, Chris says this is no longer the case.

“Studio managers used to be highly skilled operators because they needed to play a kind of tech support role,” Chris says.

But as the studio at Clemenger started to integrate more senior staff, each with their own varied digital and technology skills, problem solving has become a team effort. The studio manager’s focus shifted from technical problem solving, to traffic.

“The studio manager delegates the right person to the task, and they know the skillsets of all the operators in the studio, from a heavier digital job to a basic print ad, or a design job,” Chris said. “It’s all about knowing how long someone will take on a task, and looking after that workflow.”

“They also act as a quality control and central point for taking a brief and checking the work that was briefed in, before passing it back out.”

Key digital developments for 2015

According to Chris, while basic Flash banners, microsites, and other standard digital advertisements will continue to have their place in the media schedule, the agency will be actively looking to apply new technology in innovative ways to creative briefs.

Key to this digital focus will be Brendan “Bob” Forster, formerly of Google, who BBDO Clemenger hired in September 2014 to act as its head of creative technology.

“He will find technology that is available that no one has used, and we’ll try to partner that up with the creative brief,” Chris told us. “I think that’s the space we’ll move into: apps and new technology that people are more interested in.”

“Clients are getting more savvy and trying new digital opportunities that we are coming up with.”

All these new forms of digital advertising means an increasing fragmentation of clients’ advertising budgets. Chris expects digital to take a bigger slice of the budget pie, but for that slice to then be divvied up into even smaller chunks for the different digital advertisement technologies.

The key for agencies is to find ways of creating and delivering innovative digital advertising that do not cost a lot of money and time, but which still work to engage the audience. And to do this, a mix of creativity and technological awareness is needed.

In April 2014, Clemenger BBDO Sydney executed the Australian Some Day campaign for Tourism Australia. Rather than focusing on standard banner ads with their poor click-through rates, or huge websites requiring months to execute, they delivered a microsite, with a difference.

Visitors from the USA watched a 360 degree stitched panorama of a scenic location in Australia, then clicked a pin on the map of Australia where they thought the location was. At the end of the competition, the competitor whose pin was closest to the location won a trip to that destination.

By merging fast and low-cost production with engaging interactivity, the agency was able to deliver a flexible campaign that drew in the numbers – without blowing the marketing budget.

Chris says that content creation will be more important than ever, a potential opportunity for traditional print producers and service providers.

“A lot of people are after content, because it is low budget, it’s quick and you can put it on any social site, and it doesn’t cost clients a lot of money,” Chris explained.

“For example, when doing a conventional photoshoot, you might shoot three print ads, but then also in the process create three pieces of content that you can use in the digital space.”

At the end of the day, however, Chris says that while he seeks to flesh out the studio with operators that have a variety of different skills and specialties, the traditional key – personality – still plays a big part, with the cultural fit in the agency being a high priority.

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