Prezence, the digital agency part-owned by Primedia, has always been proud of its ability in the mobile space, says CTO Tim Bishop, and now, with the appointment of CEO Prakash Patel, it is able to provide a full range of strategic digital solutions to clients.

Patel joined Prezence in early October and is the former chief digital officer of MESH Interactive, the digital arm at Draftfcb South Africa. Prior to that he was managing partner at UK-based digital agency Global Beach for three years, where he worked with Bentley Motors, Sony Playstation, Jaguar, British Telecom, Toyota GB and Barclays.

While Bishop has successfully focussed on the technology side of the business, Patel’s brief is to build the agency’s non-tech credentials. Prezence currently employs 42 people.

Bishop says the agency has spent the last five years pushing mobile solutions and has built an impressive track record on this front, including the hugely successful and popular Ster-Kinekor mobisite.

The aim of its creations has always been to enable all consumers, and not only those with iPhones – or as Bishop puts it, Prezence aims to “mobilise the masses”. Bishop sees it as an organisational responsibility to make mobile products as accessible as possible so that anybody with even the most basic smartphone can use them .

While many organisations lost sight of mobile in their rush to the web, companies such as Prezence that built up a reputation in the field over the past couple of years are now riding a wave as businesses attempt to create practical and user-friendly applications for consumers to interact and, more importantly, transact with their products and brands via mobile handsets, says Patel.

Bishop says technology is becoming a smaller part of a larger puzzle when it comes to successful mobisites. Unfortunately, many mobile applications and sites are still constructed by techies, a bit like the web in 2002, says Bishop, ignoring fundamentals such as usability and user experience (UX) design.

The highly successful Soccer Laduma mobisite is a case in point. The site had a user base of 201 079 by June this year, generating 7.9 million page views a month. The publishers expect traffic to increase further and to make a significant ecommerce play in the future. While the tech backend is hugely important, it is designed to be a simple and uncomplicated user experience, with relevant content that is driving its popularity.

The success of Prezence in making its work work for clients, coupled with a relatively low professional profile to date, has lead Patel to dub Prezence “a diamond in the rough”. Patel will be working on polishing its image in the broader industry and ensuring clients know of its integrated digital offerings.

Primedia bought into the company and, says Bishop, was picked as a partner because he was comfortable that it would not try to swallow up Prezence, keeping the company’s management and culture in place. Bishop says that, while many analysts are focused on Primedia’s more traditional content offerings, the company has built up a great hub of innovative companies, of which Prezence is part.

Currently Prezence is upskilling on its social media capabilities, in tools as well as people, and is seeing growth in demand for these services from clients. It also promises to up the stakes on ROI and measurability with campaign debriefs that will become standard with clients.

Its Johannesburg office is still small but growing and it’s investing in upping its creative skills at that office, says Patel.

Last year, former Primedia Online (and Prezence) CEO Nikki Cockcroft told AdReview that she is tasked with integrating the Prezence business into Primedia Online and with improving its financial performance. Bishop denies that Prezence was an under-performing asset for Primedia and says the business has always been solid and profitable. There were never any plans to fully integrate Prezence and Primedia Online either, even though the two companies shared a CEO at the time, says Bishop.

Both Bishop and Patel sees specialists such as Prezence having a role to play in an increasingly integrated agency scene, saying their skills often help power the digital offerings thought up by agencies which want know their concepts are in expert hands. More and more agencies and clients are taking upfront advice from Prezence and the company aims to add value where it can.

Digital budgets are also growing healthily. The education phase of business as to the promise and opportunity of digital is drawing to a close and they are starting to buy into best practice, says Patel. And, by extension, into the Prezence offering.

Bizcommunity Originally published on Marketing & Media | South Africa – click to see more comments.


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