The traditional verticals in which media systems used to function have been irrevocably sundered. It is our job, as media people and marketers, to adapt to this

Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian

By: Ekrem Dupanović

Miloš Aleksić, Digital Account Manager in the agency Direct Media Serbia, belongs to the group of people for whom advertising is a profession, love, passion, hobby, existence, entertainment. At the same time, Miloš is part of a smaller group of advertising professionals who are trying to contribute to the development of the industry, who unselfishly donate the little spare time they have to their colleagues in order to provide them as much information as possible and help them be more successful in their work. That’s why Miloš writes the blog (Disgustvertising), which includes the list of marketing agencies in Serbia, an Online Advertising Dictionary, and a Little Temple of Planning…

He knows a lot and he constantly contemplates, changes, improves, upgrades. Miloš is one of the rare great interlocutors when development of communication industry is concerned.

Media Marketing: You are writing a blog called I first encountered this term in the book by Lazar Džamić, “Advertising pAge” in which he published his articles published in various publications. Why Disgustvertising?

Miloš Aleksić: Because I wasn’t planning on Lazar coming back! Jokes aside, his writings in Advertising pAge were among the first signposts, helping me understand advertising and marketing. The website’s name is an homage to Lazar and the influence he had on me. Now, when we’ve actually met, I’m even fonder of that name. The concept, besides it being a vent for my own writing, is for it to have loads of useful content for practitioners, clients and students. There are many plans for its further development, when time allows.

Media Marketing: When you write about yourself on the blog, you say that you have a love-hate relationship with advertising. Why do you hate it?

Miloš Aleksić: I don’t literally hate it, of course. I don’t enjoy some aspects of it: the misguided belief in technology as a cure-all, the tendency to think short-term, the lack of scruples and ethics in some actors. More than anything, it’s our failure to take responsibility for the influence we are exerting on society: it shapes and feeds us, but we do the same in turn, forming a strong feedback loop. This is why I liked the “Disgustvertising” name so much.

Media Marketing: And why do you love it?

Miloš Aleksić: The ingenious Jerry Della Femina famously said “I honestly believe that advertising is the most fun you can have with your clothes on”. That’s my favourite definition and the primary reason why I’m back in the thick of it, even though I had previously left the ad industry.

Media Marketing: You have published a list of advertising agencies in Serbia on your blog. Why?

Miloš Aleksić: Some ten years ago, a few of us ran local blogs dedicated to marketing and advertising. My internet-acquaintance Ratko Božović created and published the first such list on his website back then. It was very useful, so I took it upon myself to revive this effort and provide a meaningful benefit to the wider community.

Media Marketing: You have also published a very detailed Online Advertising Dictionary. How did you compose it, and how long did it take you to do it?

Miloš Aleksić: Once again, I started with identifying a need, first of all in my own day-to-day work. Visits to the Dictionary pages are growing at a steady pace, and now I’ve finally got a link I can send out for every occasion, which all makes me very happy. It took a staggering amount of time to get it all fit for public consumption, though. I collected the definitions from far and wide, and from my own personal experience, further simplifying them, translating… Now all I need to do is keep it updated.

Media Marketing: Let us finish the brief overview of your website. You also have the Small Temple of Planning there, in which you promote strategic planers.

Miloš Aleksić: I’d say that I’m merely saving people the round-trip of getting to them, because the people I mention don’t need any more promotion: all the roads lead to them. They are all globally recognised as authorities in strategy/planning. It’s a veritable little Parthenon, hence the name. The idea was to assemble something I wish I had the good fortune of stumbling upon ten years ago myself: an overview of the most important practitioners and educators in the field of strategic communications. I’ve attempted to assemble the pure essence of it in one place, to the benefit of future generations interested in the topic.

Media Marketing: You work at Direct Media Serbia as a Digital Account Manager. Does that mean we could talk most about digital media? Is Digital a world unto itself, or is it just another communication channel?

Miloš Aleksić: All media is now digital, interweaving and intermingling. Our lives have been thoroughly digitized. The traditional verticals in which media systems used to function have been irrevocably sundered. It is our job, as media people and marketers, to adapt to this. A ‘horizontilization’ of media must occur, as Tom Goodwin puts it, as a response to this new reality. Digital, then, isn’t a world unto itself, but rather the same good old world we had always inhabited, only now wrapped in a digital “blanket”. That’s why it’s so important not to keep propping up the artificial boundaries between those who “do digital” and their colleagues in traditional media, because that’s not the situation on the ground and in the lives of real people.

Media Marketing: Account planning and creative strategy? How much creativity is there in media planning?

Miloš Aleksić: My favourite topic, ever since I joined an agency famous for excellence in media planning. Creativity is present and growing ever more necessary, because both advertisers and the ways in which they can advertise are only growing in number. In the last decade, as a response to the changing media landscape, advanced markets grew birth to a new discipline: comms planning. It connects the analysis and rigour of media planning with the lateral thinking, the quest for “the big why?” and dedication to the wider picture that characterizes account planners and brand strategists. The purpose of a comms planner is to increase the relevancy and efficiency of the media part of the effort, trying to keep the people we intent to communicate with in focus throughout the process. This demands a lot of creativity. Jobs like this fall under those rare few which the upcoming automatization won’t (at least not in the short term) snap out of our meaty hands. I’m very glad that Direct Media recognizes this and is developing comms planning, and consequentially investing in its own future.

Media Marketing: Society-technology-communication. How much technology influences communication today, and how much does it influence changes in people and society in general? Are we on the way to become slaves of technology in the true sense of the word?

Miloš Aleksić: Many of us are already slaving away. Tech and society function like the communicating vessels of old, but their interactions are mutating faster than can be understood even by those who create them, let alone the users, nation states, lawmakers… You can feel the anxiety in the air. Robot armies are slowly becoming a reality. Facebook activity strongly influenced the US elections. Before that, we had Twitter and the Arab Spring. Mobile apps use behavioural psychology and tricks from Las Vegas to capture our attention. The “fake news” and other forms of deception and relativization of truth have been largely enabled by the development and spread of communications technology. And advertising, which finances and is directly responsible for some of the above, is looking more and more like that one scene from Minority Report… It looks as if there’s very little time for us to just sit down and properly think about this. Without this, we can’t have a good long-term result. I refuse to believe that this state of affairs should be something we accept.

Media Marketing: What is the future of agency business models? Will the agencies disappear, or will they drastically change their business model? How do you see the agency of the future?

Miloš Aleksić: That’s exactly the sort of subject matter where we need to take the time to properly unravel the threads, and then test possible solutions. I think that the biggest threat to our industry comes from the commoditisation of our services. If Google, Facebook and Amazon succeed in presenting us as identikit market stall holders peddling interchangeable wares, we’re not going to fare well. I don’t think the agency model is going anywhere, but there’s room for innovative business models and a need to test them. I often read how US shops already experiment with entertainment, software, apps etc. There’s never enough revenue streams, nor pivot opportunities. However, this necessitates a paradigm shift in what is it that we actually do and where do the boundaries lie. Are we in the business of making advertisements, or do we enable effective commercial communication? In other words – we need a strategy.

Media Marketing: Communication industry is constantly changing, especially in the Digital sector. How to set trade standards that would be valid at least some time in such fast-paced transformation?

Miloš Aleksić: It’s far from easy. Both UK and USA, considering their powerful industry regulating groups and legal systems, have trouble standardising the media and tech puzzle of modern day advertising. We do the best we can: listening, watching, learning, “stealing” know-how, but also developing our own methods and standards. That’s the reason why our professional associations, such as IAB Serbia and IAA, whose mission is to make the journey shorter and less bumpy, should receive support by all industry players. It’s great to see the increasing numbers of local agencies and media houses are waking up to the advantages of self-regulation.

Media Marketing: Education is a topic of its own. It seems as if the communications industry people should never leave the school benches. Just when we learn something, it changes – new technologies and new standards keep coming. What are the models of learning that can always keep us in track with trends?

Miloš Aleksić: That’s right, there’s very little use in Diplomas. Today it’s all about agile, UX paradigms, Customer Journey research, and by tomorrow, it’ll be some other topic (VR, AR, voice interfaces). Continuous learning is a given, seeing how traditional education wasn’t made to cope with the speed of changes. Much relies on individual initiative and investments made by employers and professional associations. Direct Media invests massively in both internal and external education, which makes my job all the more interesting and complex. Luckily, the essence of our jobs has always remained the same, and this serves as the foundation for everything else. Bill Bernbach said it best: “we should concern ourselves with the unchanging man…” The skill to attract and keep a person’s attention, to trigger emotion and find the way into our hearts (and wallets) is what will continue to define good advertising in the future. And that’s all the truth and encouragement that I need.