Each year, StopPress asks a group of talented professionals in the local industry for their reflections on the year that was. This year, we speak to individuals who made their mark on 2023 and brought us truly impactful work.
Alex Radford is Co-Founder and Partner at digital media agency D3, and is also Chairman of Independent Media Agencies New Zealand (IMANZ). Here, he gives his thoughts on the year we have just had, and what we can look forward to in 2024.
If 2023 were a brand, what would its slogan be?
“Ride the Storm”- A Year of Change, Challenges, and Courage
How would you sum up your professional year in three words?
Adapting. Growing. Tired.
What shifts do you foresee in the New Zealand media agency landscape for 2024 based on 2023’s trends?
As the co-owner of an independent agency and Chair of IMANZ, my prediction is that 2024 will be heralded as the “Year of the Indy.” I foresee a significant shift where more clients and government agencies recognise the unique advantages of collaborating with locally owned agencies. These agencies, like D3, are deeply invested in their clients’ businesses and outcomes, offering personalised, dedicated service and a genuine understanding of the local market.
This trend will reflect an increasing appreciation for the bespoke strategies and client-focused approach that independent agencies bring to the table, setting them apart in the media and advertising landscape.
What was a key change that D3 made this year in response to 2023’s challenges.
In response to 2023’s challenges, a key change we made at D3 was to intensify our focus internally, particularly on our team. Our aim was to transform D3 into the best workplace for media people in New Zealand. We prioritised creating an environment that not only nurtures talent but also fosters innovation and excellence. This internal strengthening directly correlates with our ability to be the best partner for our clients.
Additionally, we diversified our services to offer a broader spectrum, including enhanced capabilities in SEO, data analytics, and media mix modelling. This approach not only meets the evolving needs of our clients but also keeps us at the forefront of the industry.
What technology made the most impact on the media landscape this year?
Artificial Intelligence, without a doubt. It’s revolutionised how we analyse data, predict trends, and even how we create content. It’s a game-changer for the media industry, and we’re just scratching the surface. At D3 we are using AI daily to build causality and correlation models, build keyword tables, create content, manage budget pacing, reporting and even writing the Friday quiz!
What mistakes do you think brands will make in the media space in 2024?
Mistakes that will continue to take place include:
- Not setting clear, measurable goals for their media campaigns.
- Continuing to overlook the importance of allocating funds for testing media strategies.
- Making the mistake of concentrating solely on immediate results and neglecting the overall picture, leading to brand degradation.
And some new ones:
- Brands who fail to incorporate AI-powered technologies in their media planning may miss out on actionable insights, automated efficiency, and targeted advertising opportunities.
- Brands that do not adopt a digital-first approach in their media planning will fall behind.
- While digital media provides instant data and analytics, brands might mistakenly assume immediate results equate to instant success. It’s crucial to analyse and adjust strategies over time for effective media planning.
- As the digital landscape evolves towards greater privacy, brands that do not prioritise first-party data may struggle. Relying on third-party cookies, which are becoming obsolete, can lead to less targeted and effective marketing efforts.
What is the biggest lesson D3 has learnt this year?
The value of agility and foresight. This year taught us that being prepared for change and having the ability to pivot quickly is invaluable in most years, but this year especially.
Who inspired you in 2023 and why?
The most inspiring group for me in 2023 has undoubtedly been the IMANZ board, our dedicated members, and our supportive partners. The extraordinary effort and time the board has invested since June, culminating in our successful launch in August and beyond, is nothing short of remarkable.
As volunteers united by our love for the industry, we’ve collectively devoted countless hours to develop an association that nurtures and grows the independent sector in New Zealand. Special recognition goes to our 39 members who joined us, readily aligning with our vision, and to our media owner partners who, despite a challenging year, embraced IMANZ’s ethos and tirelessly worked to enhance the value for our members.
What are you most looking forward to working on in 2024?
I’m excited about further exploring AI and data analytics capabilities to drive innovative media strategies. Also, fostering stronger collaborations within the New Zealand media landscape, especially through IMANZ, to enhance our industry’s overall impact and effectiveness.
Quick fire 10:
Most impactful local campaign of 2023:
Tina from Turners. Obviously.
Most underrated international campaign of the year:
I loved the Flora “skip the cow” campaign for plant-based butter. Clearly not a popular product here in New Zealand, but landed well in the UK, partly because of the genius creative that really makes you think about the fact that butter is, essentially, made inside a cow’s digestive track…
Campaign I wish I worked on:
The National campaign – if we had, they wouldn’t have needed Winnie.
A news event that didn’t get the attention it deserved:
Ongoing climate change. Threatens every part of our lives but continues to be politicised and under reported.
Most listened to artist of 2023:
A 2023 trend you’re ready to bid farewell to:
Most innovative use of social media in a campaign this year:
I loved the Opel “pay with views” campaign in the Netherlands that allowed users to win a car simply by racking up video views of their test drive on YouTube.
Most bingeable TV series of 2023:
Biggest flop of 2023:
Best piece of advice you’ve been given:
Focus on what you can control and let go of what you can’t.