Cannes 2012: a talk with the major Italian media players

Federica Scaramelli investigates the new advertising scenario in Italy by interviewing key people in the media industry

As our juror Rafaella Bertini is arriving in Cannes, our tour of the Festival of Creativity continues.

In previous interviews we lived the atmosphere and understood the voting mechanisms, looking at some of the most interesting international campaigns that won last year and others that this year deserve the same success.

This time we engage with some of the most important players int the Italain media industry, to understand their vision, how their communication strategies are changing and how they are preparing for a future that is approaching faster and faster.

We thank for their helpfulness:

Sara BuluggiuHead of Digital Starcom
Simona ZanetteCountry Manager Alfemminile.com and IAB Italia President
Luca ColomboCountry Manager Facebook Italia
Zeno MotturaGeneral Manager MEC Italia

In a country like Italy, how much is a brand ready to invest in operations that go beyond classic advertising?

Sara Buluggiu

This is a bit of a genreric question, it depends on the brand, on its brand equity and on its positioning. We are witnessing two opposite approaches: clients on a tight budget that focus all on a special activity,  leaving out traditional media from the mix; others that, instead, ask for more traditional, reassurung and measurable activities. Should I provide a perentage, I’d say between 5-8%

Simona Zanette

It depends on if these activities are below the line or digital. A lot has been invested in below the line activities and special projects, and many campaigns added these elements to classic advertising. About the digital, I’d say that the top spenders are still lukewarm, even if digital activities have progressed in the past two years and digital platforms are taken into consideration for communication activities. Of course we are not the UK, where in 2011 internet investments accounted for 21% of the total, bringing the web in first place among the planned media. We also have to consider that we come from a very solid TV-based investments that is not easy to change, since TV is very deep rooted on the Italian population.

Luca Colombo

In Itlay as in the rest of the world, the brands are aware that the user-consumer creates opinions and raises his engagement with the brand through the new communication channels. A research from the Politecnico of Milan and Mimesi showed that 8 million Italians orient their purchases on social networks. The missing link is a “recipe” that tells how to use new media alongside the classic channels. The new media are changing so rapidly that it is hard to answer this question.

Zeno Mottura

“Innovation” is the key word from the past year and a half, that is always present in marketing and communication briefs. The point is understand what it really means. Often it is associated to digital, internet or below the line activities. In reality, the Italian media industry, even if strongly TV-centric, especially compare to othe countries, is definitely advanced. Digitalization has given new dynamics and interactions. Touchpoints have increased, so have complexity of advertising. Italy does not lack in creativity, we need more courage and willingness to change.

 

Strategically managing such different media, allow to optimize the use of every medium and create new professionals. In this scenario, is the relationship between media and client changing as well?

Sara Buluggiu

Our is more and more a consultant-like role, and in our agencies are created professionals like “digital media special project and social manager”, which is not a strategic role, but a dedicated professional focused on all the projects on social media and cross activities between digi-tv and territory, surely an interesting and stimulating phenomenon for those who approach to media centres.

Simona Zanette

Sure. There are several researches and studies about, there have been new professionals in the past 5 years, even if not all the companies are up to date regarding this situation. The relationship between media and client has changed consequently, and for example, the introduction of the final users in the communication flow, with the management of their produced contents, have modified the way to do communication: yesterday it was unidirectional, today is a real-time and bi-directional.

Luca Colombo

Difficulties aries both for the agencies and their clients and needs. The relationship between media and client requires a mutual development of competencies that are more and more transversal. It is essential to have the highest expertise in the core competencies, but at the same time being more creative, more functional and extend their responsibilities over other fields.

Zeno Mottura

In the past they said that the media were the experts on numbers. Definitely less sexy than creativity, but essential to evaluate the impact investment/results. The current scenario is data-centric, meaning that the measurement is more punctual and fragmentated. ROI and Analytics go together. Strategic departments of media centres are populated by professionals in modelling and econometrics. I’d say that the relationship between media and clients is shifting towards a marketing oriented logic.

The digital natives, big consuemers that move outside traditional media, are a new marketing niche, like the newcoming singles and gay in the ’90s?

Sara Buluggiu

I think it is a bit more complex than the newcoming singels was in the ’90s: these are people with very different lives and media preferences almost unapproachable. We need a magical balance between creativity, media and engagement to reach them and make them chose us.

Simona Zanette

The digital natives, if we consider those born after 1985, that is, those who were teenagers in the ’90s, today don’t have a spending power sufficient to affect consumes and communications; even because we have to remember that the averege age is moving forward, so, in terms of critical mass, there are more and more seniors digitalized who have good spending power. Obviously, in case of brands/produts with a target of 0-30 y.o. the amount of investments in digital platforms need to be quite elevated, considering that that target can be reached mainly outside traditional media such as radio, tv and print.

Luca Colombo

Figital natives up to 24y.o. are surely a well defined, important segment, that needs to be carefully avaluated, not just considered a marketing niche. On one hand, they are segment difficult to reach thorugh traditional media, on the other hand they are more prone to be engaged and to share information. They are more dialogue-oriented than other generations and are heavy mobile users.

Zeno Mottura

It’s hard to say. I think that being a digital native does not imply to be in an “elite” or being “different”. Recente technologies have provided us new form of communications, less linear, instantaneous and personal. These elements must be a stimolus for companies and agencies, because they represent the change.

According to currenct predictions, in a few years Interntet traffic will drop in favour of Apps: smartphones have done in three years what TV did in 30. If new media are the future, can we say that communication is becoming more one to one?

Sara Buluggiu

Saying that the internet, a rising medium, is going to drop seems a bit risky: there will be a further diversification in the communication that is “relevant to me”. Whether it is an app on a website, professionals like us need to start speaking about a single framework and not about a blurred plurality.

Simona Zanette

Mobile traffic, both via App and m-sites, is increasingly popular, as well as mobile devices (smartphones and tablets), hence we will witness an audience shift toward this direction. The question is if the contents, advertising and services offers are ready to this, in order to allow users to find and benefit from this, creating a highly customized business area.

Luca Colombo

The number and complexity of information that users are subject to, are increasing, while timo on their hands is decreasing. In this context, the search for relevance is fundamental and cannot be renaunced. New Apps, website solutions and information provider services must follow this trend.

Zeno Mottura

Smartphones and mobile devices are the technological answer to the change in life and consuming habits of modern individuals. Once again is technology that interpretes our needs, in this case of mobility, personalization and connectivity. It is difficult to think of the end of stream communication in favour of one-to-one communication. Often, one-to-one becomes direct, but we all know that this can work only if there is a strong brand and awareness capability upstream, that can trigger the desire. Of course, communication aimed to Reach-objectives needs to take into account more personal messages and not generically based on the socio-demographic target. It will be technology and media addressability to transmit pertinent messages, contextual to the fruition of the user in that moment and in accordance to the device. The ability to properly read data and understand users’ needs in real time will develop a many-to-one model, that will allow companies to leverage on volumes like today are doing with TV.

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