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“Agencies that specialize and decentralize their structure will be winners in the future”

With almost 18 years of experience in advertising, Bogdan Ivașcu is the new Head of Growth at Minio Studio. So we asked him to answer a few questions about how he sees the future of Marcomm, what opportunities he’s already noticed in the market, and where the market could learn from abroad!

What does the position of Head of Growth entail? And how does your previous experience translate into what you do now at Minio?

Essentially, my position is one of “developer”. Minio is in a phase of accelerated growth, on many levels, and this process needs a coordinator to make sure the development path is correct. That’s me 😊

Concretely, my responsibilities translate into: coordinating new business projects (approaching new clients, pitches), developing new business units, independent and complementary to Minio, introducing new services to the agency portfolio.

You made this move in a difficult macro-economic context. Do you think the overall situation will help you discover more opportunities for growth or do you see it as an impediment?

I admit I asked myself that question before I made the move. I see it as a constructive challenge – crisis or not, the MarComm industry will still be active. It has to, as long as consumption drives the economy. It’s just that the tactics and tools will change, we will see an evolution towards tactical, digital-led campaigns with a focus on efficiency. And Minio is in that sweet spot where it can support these kinds of projects for current and potential clients, which makes me optimistic about the prospects for new business and growth, despite the context.

What does the Romanian MarComm market look like from your point of view?

It is currently characterised by anxiety, a natural consequence of the difficult context of recent years. This state of uncertainty is particularly noticeable in agencies – planned campaigns that were suddenly stopped or not launched at all, marketing budgets being cut, fees being negotiated to the bone – all of these phenomena have had a considerable impact on revenue and profitability.

The upside to a crisis is that it forces the market to transform, which is healthy. We are already seeing the first changes. Last year, for example, smart investments in tactical, target-driven digital campaigns took precedence. There is more emphasis on efficiency. There is growing interest in TikTok, Twitch, Insta Reels and delivering content tailored to these platforms.

There is also a refresh phenomenon in the recruitment area. Generation Z people are starting to enter the job market, they are a sought-after resource for companies and agencies, although there is some difficulty in attracting them and keeping them motivated. I believe that the influx of Gen Z into the industry will come with a restructuring of the way of working towards a more flexible, decentralised form.

Another observation here is that the number of seniors in the industry is shrinking. In the context of accelerated specialisation and streamlining of the industry, the beating on valuable, experienced people will increase in the new year.

What opportunities do you feel advertising agencies have missed given all the socio-economic tensions we’ve gone through in recent years?

I would start from a thesis that I have been advocating for some time: in the current context, where marketers’ efforts need validation and certainty more than ever, agencies that specialize and decentralize their structure, investing in services and tools that measure the effectiveness and impact of campaigns, will be winners in the future.

Are we at that point as an industry? Certainly not entirely. Although things are starting to move in this direction, the classic full-service agency business model still prevails, a generalist structure that offers everything but suffers from a certain rigidity in the creative product offered to clients.

What are the biggest differences between local and international markets? Are we on par with Western countries or do we need to burn some more steps? Do you think it is necessary to compare ourselves with them or are we where we are because that is the current need?

In general we are quite up to date versus the western communication industry, I don’t see any noticeable differences. There are a few small nuances, which are more related to our Balkan cultural specificity. One of them should be mentioned in particular, as it is rather problematic: the lack of planning in the implementation of campaigns. We are still in the paradigm of campaigns prepared in a hurry, on short notice. Compared to Western countries, we have half the normal thinking time, we invest less in strategy and research to generate a relevant big idea, we move too quickly to implementation.

One of my objectives for the new year on new business projects is to identify clients with long-term potential, willing to invest more time in the planning stage. For them, we also have Biometrics, Minio Studio’s own service that uses neuroscience principles to optimize creative materials based on consumer reactions, a service we already use in current client campaigns.

How quickly does the Romanian MarComm market react to trends coming from abroad?

Very quickly, we are early adopters for everything new and trendy. Romanians are passionate about technology with, a recent study that 34% of urban smart TV owners watch exclusively online content on it. And this passion is of interest to marketers because it manifests itself in the form of accelerated consumption of digital media. I would mention podcasts and short video content as examples here. Podcasts are a form of content that has exploded into pandemics and is still high on the Romanian consumer preference list. It offers brands opportunities for quality associations and the possibility to create customised recurring content.

Short video content is starting to dominate in the context of replacing TV zapping with scrolling for snackable content, it has the real potential to become the main engagement driver for brands. A very good example of this is TikTok, a short video content platform that Romanians are still discovering and has not reached anywhere near its full potential for brands.

In what direction do you think the Romanian MarComm market is heading? What are the trends that will become the briefs of 2023?

If I were a gambler, this year I would put my money on a safe bet, creating snackable video content. There will be an increase in the number of campaigns focusing on TikTok, Insta Reels and YouTube Shorts, content formats predominantly used by Generation Z. It’s a trend that will only get stronger as brands realise they need to stay relevant to the new generation of consumers, especially as their purchasing power grows.

So I anticipate that this year we will see an explosion of campaigns on TikTok, especially since its algorithm is based on the number of views and is very campaign-friendly, allowing content to be pushed quickly to as many people as possible.

Another type of content on the rise is livestreaming, with the rise of Twitch in Romania and the emergence of dedicated content creators on this platform.

There has been a lot of talk lately about the Metaverse, which many see as the next step in the evolution of digital, but it is currently a bit abstract because it includes several components under a loose umbrella. Here too, Romanian MarComm is a trendsetter, with two very good examples in recent years – the first NFT collection curated by Mirinda and the launch of Coca-Cola Dreamworld through MoCap tech.

Stepping a little outside the digital sphere (although the two are not mutually exclusive), another topic of interest for marketers is the area of employer branding. We’ll see more and more campaigns with a focus here, in the context of an acute need to recruit a limited resource (Gen Z-ers are fewer, demographically, than previous generations). I see huge potential here, not only for generating dedicated communication campaigns, but also for the emergence of new education and learning platforms to quickly integrate applicants. Here we can already boast a consistent track record, validated by 4 awards at the Employer Branding Awards.

What was your first project since you arrived at Minio? How is it going? What was the opportunity you identified? Tell us more about it.

I’m happy to have launched the Maker Podcast, an agency product that set out to talk honestly about how content creators build their image business and manage their relationship with brands.

We published the first 3 episodes at the end of last year and are continuing, the long-term goal is to gather as many useful insights for marketers about the process of working with online makers as possible. This is the first in a series of business initiatives I’m preparing from my new position as Head of Growth at Minio Studio.

So what are your conclusions? What about your plans for next year?

In addition to the new business component that is always on, a first ongoing project is the accelerated recruitment of Gen Z talent (creatives, video editors, project managers) and the mapping out of a more decentralised working structure that maximises their potential.

In parallel, I am testing as many creative analytics and automation tools as possible, such as VidMob Intelligent Creative Overview or Hunch, with the intention of validating their potential for future use in agency workflow.

Continuing with the Maker Podcast, we already have season 2 planned.

I’m also focusing on the area of short, snackable content creation, which I’ll tell you more about in due course. It’s going to be an interesting year 😊