Jasna Dugalić, Account Director, Direct Media:

Regional Motor for the Development of Communication

The past fifteen years have been marked by the maturing of the marketing industry in the region in every sense, first and foremost through the entry into the market of large foreign corporations and the business principles that they have implemented, which have consequentially resulted in the modernisation of the work of the media and agencies

Direct Media has been a motor of this development in the advertising domain, and not only on the Serbian market. Direct Media’s most valuable assets are people, their expertise, continuous development and relations of trust with partners.

Last year saw the formal celebrating of 15 years of Direct Media’s successful operations, during a time that has been covered by major economic and social turbulence in the region. What values have helped to ensure you are still at the top?
For our continued success we can thank our high standards, unified criteria for providing services in all countries and constant work on ourselves through the development of tools and expertise, but also the courage to make advancements in the implementation of technologies and new advertising formats. No business can function well without high quality markets. I believe that our advancements have made the difference for the betterment of the entire industry.

Major technological innovations have also characterised this period. What technologies do you think are particularly important for advertisers, the media and agencies?
The time of technological disruption in advertising is yet to come, although technologies also marked the previous period to a large extent. Interpreting the habits of consumers, good targeting and delivery of a high-quality user experience remain a continuing priority, albeit now in the world of Big Data, Machine learning and Programmatic buying. Agencies will have an increasing role in the process of improving CRM for clients with large bases of users and consumers, and that kind of digital knowhow will play a decisive role. When it comes to ‘Brand’ and the perception of it, all kinds of technologies, such as virtual reality tech that simulates reality, strengthens the user experience and leads a Brand into the context of story living, will continue to be current.

As an agency that gained its reputation thanks to the efficiency of its campaigns, with visible and measurable results of that which clients invest through advertising, we are developing new models for evaluating the effectiveness of advertising. These models can clearly, and to date most accurately, predict the effects of a campaign

Ever reducing budgets, coupled with increasing client demands for improved budget efficiency, emerged as a result of the global economic crisis and created great challenges for agencies. What trends do you expect in this sector until the end of 2017?
Reduced budgets are the situation in which we have operated for the last few years and, if we exclude a slight increase in investments in digital media, no major changes in this area are to be expected during the course of this year. A challenge that has lasted for an equally long time, and which has shifted the focus away from budgets, is finding how to secure ROI at a time when consumer attention is divided. As an agency that gained its reputation thanks to the efficiency of its campaigns, with visible and measurable results of that which clients invest through advertising, we are developing new models for evaluating the effectiveness of advertising. These models can clearly, and to date most accurately, predict the effects of a campaign.

 
Direct Media is active in almost all Western Balkan countries. To what extent does this fact contribute to the efficiency of advertising budgets for companies in the region?
Large clients that operate on multiple markets seek a uniform level of service on every market, and we have managed to achieve that in 15 years of doing business, by taking into account the level of development of certain markets and the specific local demands of clients. Centralising advertising campaign management brings clients great optimisation in terms of the time and resources invested in communicating with agencies, while the agencies gain a better understanding of customers and their needs, which creates a long-term win-win situation. The digital age brings new jobs that move beyond the borders of countries in which you have physical operations, thus opening the door for agencies to provide services on many more markets than has been the case to date.

Direct media has an exceptionally rich portfolio of clients, but also the widest array of services and media outlets with which it communicates. Which of your new “product” would you give priority to at this juncture?
I would place an emphasis on strategic brand positioning, through creative strategies and digital communications, as complementary disciplines that will, together, increasingly determine the quality of communication with consumers. Alongside that, we offer the integration of communications services across all channels of communication, and that implies an extremely large range of services.

What are the next steps towards the further development of Direct Media?
Our fifteen-year journey has been followed by constant evolution, first from a media agency, via a communications agency, to a provider of full services as a media system that manages the communications of brands. The next step is to further improve expertise in the digital domain and develop new software and tools for creating and evaluating advertising campaigns. We will always be the first, or among the first, to try out new technologies, and these are the advances I have spoken about. On the other hand, experience tells us that something that is a trend elsewhere in the world often won’t work here. We remain consistent in the application of technology with meaning, but not at any price.