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Things were changing and we had to be flexible

Interview with Darren Parker

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Marketing has gone truly digital

Darren Parker

... But not on its own. It has met someone along the way that would make a perfect companion. That is technology. And the successful digital transformation lies with those who get that partnership right. 

Darren Parker was considering the evolution of marketing a few years back. He was with Hogarth, a world leader in creative production with a global community of over 4,000 people in 30 cities around the world. And the changes were constant with an ever-moving landscape.

TAKE THE CREATION OF AN AD CAMPAIGN. Over the course of a few decades, online advertising has completely revolutionised the practice. And so, with the unstoppable evolution of marketing and a rejection of silo-based thinking, the creative agency model has changed. These days, a new ad will involve technological and media challenges, and it is founded upon a totally different marketing workflow. A convergence of marketing and IT has led the way, but it was not always an easy partnership.

We were providing services across multiple digital channels. And we needed to combine everything within a single interface to service our client’s production requirements. We looked around in the market, and there were many Martech products available. But not a lot was fully integrated, fully flexible systems that gave us the capabilities to run and integrate to everything related to the product life cycle, all within just one product,” Darren Parker explains.

The centralised portal

The marketing industry has seen dramatic innovations and changes in the past decades. Getting your product to the marketplace is a completely different business now. Darren Parker faced this challenge as they set up Hogarth and faced a new world order. They needed to develop a holistic approach. They needed a product that would integrate all the planning, all the briefs, all the approvals, all the bookings, and all the jobs that come along. And they eventually settled for the Encode platform.

Things were changing, and we had to be flexible. We needed transparency to provide full visibility of all production activity, to help clients understand the costs, and we needed a centralised portal to help drive standardised ways of working,” says Darren Parker, while he considers how yet another change has swept through the marketing industry during the past months.

Now more than ever

Darren Parker joined Encode just six months ago. He knew everything about the Encode platform after having used it at Hogarth for years. And he saw it as a perfect match to explain to other agencies and production agencies the benefits of working on an integrated, holistic system like Encode. Then something happened that would accelerate his entry into the Encode family. Coronavirus arrived, and everyone was suddenly working remotely.

Now, more than ever, you need centralised standards. You need clear communication across channels, dealing with multiple participants, and yet everyone is working remotely. You need accuracy. You need planning. You need an online way of exchanging briefs, estimates, and visibility on producing the final production work, ̈ explains Darren.

Coronavirus had everyone talking about the need to remain efficient when you cannot show up at the office. To Darren Parker, the talking was really the talk of a product he was already offering. Working remotely is the manifestation and illustration of how important it is to access a platform that manages communication online.

It is an easy conversation to have these days. People are more accepting towards the idea of working remotely, and when you do work from a distance, you become aware of how much value a centralised, online platform holds for your company.

Digital takes all

The digital transformation arrived long ago. As such, advertising and production companies have always been at the forefront of the technological evolution simply because it is part of their identity. More often than not, you are introduced to advanced technological solutions via commercials and advertising, only you do not necessarily notice. It is just part of the digital transformation. 

But the waves of digitisation have had an immense impact on the workflow in-house. There are many different contributors. And your digital transformation might leave you in the dark in terms of where time is spent. Or, even worse, where the cost lies.

If you look at the world and the amount of content that is being created, then we need to offer people the chance of understanding along the way what is working and what is not,” Darren explains.

The answer to going fully digital is a platform where you can easily share and consolidate the information. A platform that will automatically bring any number of people working on a campaign on par with the progress.

That platform should audit and show us every step of the activity, and this is exactly what Encode does for agencies,” says Darren.

That platform should audit and show us every step of the activity, and this is exactly what Encode does for agencies.

Darren Parker, Managing Director

Close relationships

However, despite the continuing digitisation and the increasing distance between peers working on the same project, there is still an important measurement to factor in. Old style relationships pertain to the world of production and Creative agencies. And, according to Darren Parker, you need to be flexible to take this on as well even if it seems like a contradiction in terms.

You will still find people communicating a brief over the phone. A production company wants to have a close relationship with the Creative agency. It should feel like they are the same company providing extended services to their offering.

The platform needs to provide the flexibility to manage multiple briefing methods, producing a consistent auditable trail of the communication.

And the same goes for Darren’s team at Encode. They work closely with clients and have a clear understanding of their requirements, born through many years of experience across the team, in the same areas. Yet you cannot work as closely with people as you used to. Coronavirus has emphasised this. But the success of going through a platform transformation still lies with a close relationship in the eyes of Darren Parker.

Last week, we got feedback from a company that had been using tech that was 8-9 years old. They had multiple systems that had been integrated, and over time, had become entangled and opaque with lots of historical business logic. They needed to reduce their tech stack to simplify their approach. And transitioning onto our platform has been an extremely positive experience. It is not just because of the product, even though the platform provides an answer to their problems, but also because of the team we have,” says Darren and points to the amount of experience within his team at Encode.

They needed to reduce their tech stack to simplify their approach. And transitioning onto our platform had been an extremely positive experience.

Darren Parker, Managing Director

We understand the pressures

The strength of working with a toolbox that streamlines the workflow across digital channels is obvious to Darren. After all, he has been working in marketing technology for 25 years. He is seasoned concerning the changes that come with working with the software and hardware of creative production. He has enough experience from the marketing industry to adequately explain what he does for a living.

Well, we are providing a platform to enable the production of materials for agencies that want to be more efficient and organised. That is the simple answer. But sometimes it works even better when I explain that we are making sure a company knows exactly what their next action will be and that this means they can accurately meet client SLAs, KPIs, and deadlines,” says Darren and then points again at the importance of his team at Encode:

People in our team have experience in agencies and have a marketing technology background. We understand the pressured environments, what it means to have tight deadlines, and the need to deliver 100 banners or videos the next day. Our team’s experience and understanding help our clients achieve efficiency in their ways of working."

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