#AgencyFocus: iProspect — playing the numbers game
by Sabrina Forbes. With access to best-practice and learnings from peers around the world, iProspect South Africa believes it’s positioned to deliver global-minded strategies localised to specific nuances. The digital marketing specialist is part of the global Denstu Aegis Network, which acquired John Brown Media SA in 2015 and ad agency FoxP2 earlier in 2018, and the SA team works across a network of 4200 employees spread over 91 offices in 55 countries.
“We drive business performance with passionate specialists focused on measurable results,” says its website, in bold. With services ranging through display, content, paid search, conversion optimisation, design and UX, web development, social media management, programmatic, structure data and feeds, lead generation, mobile and organic search — all underpinned by data and analytics — iProspect positions itself as the digital marketing specialist in the Denstu Aegis Network, something that’s grown in importance with the rise of digital and hyper-expectant consumers.
Recent group client wins in the past 18 months have more than doubled the agency’s staff count, billings, and revenue in the past year, one such win being Absa Group, a regional win across 10 sub-Saharan African markets.
According to Jaco Lintvelt, iProspect SA and Amnet SSA managing director, driving performance for clients is at the heart of everything his team does and is becoming a greater requirement from clients themselves. While there are a few agencies parading as performance marketing specialists, for Lintvelt, iProspect was born out of that offering. “Performance marketing is in our DNA, which gives us a massive advantage. We’re very closely aligned to the global partners in our network and want to be pioneers in the field, which drives us to push the performance marketing agenda.”
Performance marketing, as defined by the American Performance Marketing Association, is a “comprehensive term that refers to online marketing and advertising programs in which advertisers and marketing companies are paid when a specific action is completed; such as a sale, lead, or click”. For Lintvelt, what performance really means for iProspect is “to be the critical partner to our clients, providing solutions that deliver transformative business results through specific combinations of our products and services.
“We have a team of well-trained and very passionate specialists that are fully committed to deliver to our clients’ requirements and help them grow their business[es] with performance-media campaigns that deliver business value. It comes through in our strategies, the way we optimise campaigns, and the way we think about marketing in general. This is why we say: Performance. It’s not what we do. It’s who we are,” he adds.
Increasing revenue opportunities
The industry, however, still has a long way to go and, according to Lintvelt, we haven’t gotten to a point where performance marketing has reached the full scale of brands. “The gap between those getting it right and those who aren’t is increasing,” he says, also sharing that he’s seen a rapid adoption in the ecommerce, financial, and insurance sectors. These have seen value and are beginning to invest even more.
An industry he believes will soon adopt performance marketing more heavily is retail, specifically fashion. It’s about increasing revenue opportunities and ensuring the overall consumer experience online is a lot better. The experience a consumer has with a brand should tie in on all touchpoints with SEO and UX perspective optimisation, as well as message and tone optimisation core to this requirement.
iProspect’s USP when it comes to standing out from the rest is how it builds a foundation on its data proposition before anything else. By understanding its clients’ business objectives and challenges and then deciding which media channels to push, it believes it’s setting itself apart from its competitors. Find out what you’re trying to solve, what data points you need to solve it and what data points you’re trying to gather, and then plan from there, not the other way around.
Trust incredibly important
Lintvelt also believes that trust is incredibly important when it comes to dealing with media channels. Clients are expecting personal communication and, by making use of the relationships the media platforms already have with their audiences, brands may begin to leverage and build their own personal relationships. Again, data is at the heart of all relationship building and the ability to track and measure consumer behaviour.
The Denstu Aegis Group recently conducted a major, global survey of over 1000 CMOs and senior-level marketers across 10 countries. What was revealed is that “marketing investment is on an upward curve, as marketing’s role as the primary ‘growth antennae’ for organisations is strengthened by the use of data. CMOs are really in a unique position to turn consumer insight into the next commercial opportunity and create new sources of revenue,” says Lintvelt.
Lintvelt and his team have noticed massive changes in the level of performance delivery put on marketers and agencies alike. Every CMO is now starting to ask, ‘Where did my 1c go?’. Reporting on data metrics is going to become more and more granular as “greater performance attributes become aligned with all elements of the industry,” he says. Even creativity needs to prove ROI. Is this perhaps the end of creative agencies as we know them or will they get absorbed and their work become part of a performance-based offering, as has happened with FoxP2?
Room for improvement
“Everyone has data now but how do we classify it into what is and isn’t useful?” ask Lintvelt. It seems there’s a lot of discussion around the potential of digital marketing but there’s still much room for improvement across the industry.
Businesses wouldn’t exist without people and he believes the agency is “successful because of the people [they] have in the business.” Finding the right people, however, isn’t that easy, and Lintvelt remains heavily involved in the recruitment and hiring at iProspect. He believes that people need to be passionate about the industry and feels he’s pretty good at picking up whether they truly are or aren’t.
To get the best out of people, a trusting environment with a collective responsibility is what’s being built at iProspect. Yes, there’s a pool table but that doesn’t breed culture. For Lintvelt, it’s about “creating an environment where people as a collective become smarter”. The agency invests heavily in its employees through a Google-based digital learning platform called NextGen. This education ethos stems from the leadership’s belief that, by giving people the tools to improve themselves, they’re being shown how much they are valued. For the agency, it doesn’t hurt that its staff are continuously upskilled and offering their clients new and exciting ideas. “You want to be in a position where you are leading the conversation,” he says.
2019 plans for the Denstu Aegis Network include creating a clear vision to make sure the momentum created in 2018 keeps flowing. “As a business, we really see the digital economy as an opportunity and are committed to digital transformation, but what we would really like to achieve in 2019 on a practical level is to further drive and refine the digital and data leadership that we showcased to our clients this year and build on it, as we understand it will pay an even more important role in our client’s marketing mix next year,” he ends.
|iprospect.com • Ramify
Sabrina Forbes (IG) is an experienced and published writer covering the food, health, lifestyle, beverage, marketing and media industries. She runs her own full-stack web/app development and digital-first content creation company. For more, go to moonwrench.com. She is a contributing writer to MarkLives.com.
“#AgencyFocus” is an ongoing weekly series updating the market on ad agency performance, including business performance, innovation, initiatives, the work, awards and people.
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