And how those digital trends impact the people who work there…
CEO Marty Drill has been at the helm of the award-winning Melbourne-based agency, Luminary for the better part of two decades. Over this period, he’s experienced first-hand the way technology has changed the face of agency demand.
From development to automation, Marty has seen it all.
We caught up to explore the key ways the agency has evolved, and the impact that has had for the professionals who work there.
User expectations have increased
The backbone of traditional web design, development and advertising agencies used to be content publishing. Now, user expectation has drastically increased, and digital experts need to adopt a 360-degree view to strategically unravel business and marketing problems. The end goal is to leverage digital to connect with consumers over the long term. It’s about user experience and being able to provide the user with a brand interaction that’s beyond just selling.
We are now true partners with our clients, and we’re seen as an extension of the marketing team. This is a big shift from being seen as outsourced IT consultants.
Digital UX has become more targeted
These days, if you’re talking to everyone, you’re not talking to anyone. To provide a really positive user experience, you need to address the questions of ‘who, where and in what context?’ It’s our job to be able to answer these questions across a variety of platforms and in the context of a variety of stages of the user journey. With the proliferation of different mobile devices, users have become far more sophisticated in their tastes and expectations. We’ve got to dig deep to understand the granular needs of the target market.
A mum on the phone, on the bus, is having a different experience compared to a lawyer on a desktop computer at work. There are different modes for different contexts and different needs.
Customer-centricity is no longer just a front-end game
One of the biggest changes in the agency space has been the rise of client-facing roles. With more clients embracing a hands-on partnership approach, it’s opening up communication for parts of the team that have never worked with clients before.
Traditionally, for example, there was no real client interaction with designers and developers. As technology has changed, so has the way feedback is shared with clients.
This was all previously handled primarily by a producer; whose role is now also evolving to have more account management responsibilities.
It’s not about the ‘Big Bang’ campaign anymore
A digital agency is not an advertising agency. There’s still a perception that the majority of our focus is spent on very short-term, big bang campaigns. The reality is we’re now very focused on long-term engagement. One of the misconceptions is that you work until 9 pm – as we operate with a long-term planning approach, that midnight campaign work just doesn’t exist.
We’re talking about engagement that lasts 3-5 years and that impacts how we operate. It’s no longer, here’s a project, launch it, then just host it.
Career progression isn’t a linear game anymore
The vertical hierarchy of traditional agencies is gone. Digital agencies are leaning towards a flatter, more nimble model.
As a result, we’re seeing people have more variation in their career progression. This increase in job versatility shows up in the form of back-end developers becoming front end developers, developers becoming producers, or developers switching their technology language.
It’s interesting that someone who is analytical and conscientious can end up focused on soft skills in communications, planning and broader production.
People are swapping roles quite readily. We have many people here that had a completely different degree to where we are now (mine was in resource management).
The workforce has changed, and a lateral move is far more likely. That will only continue.
Boundaries are disappearing
If you’re not flexible, you will get stuck. You have to provide an environment where people can move around, either in their career path or project as mentioned – but also physically. Flexible working arrangements will become the norm. For digital agencies, this means having distributed cloud-based teams. Employees will only continue to exploit technology to collaborate on a defined project as a studio team – from multiple locations and across time zones.
It’s not going to be 9-6 for much longer. People start and finish at different times, and you have to have the technology to support that.
The challenge is to keep people interested and motivated – variation and flexibility will play a key role in that.