DAN’s Neal Estavillo speaks to Marketing mag on all things advertising

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Dentsu Aegis Network Malaysia’s (DAN) Director Business Development, Neal Estavillo, is a stalwart of the industry, having spent over 25 years in ad land. Before taking up his current role with Dentsu last year, Estavillo was Astro’s VP Creative Solutions and prior to that, held MD roles with JWT and MediaCom.

Estavillo has had to hit the ground running in a challenging time for the industry, which, in many ways is having to reinvent itself and evolve. But Estavillo is certain that Dentsu is well positioned to come out on top. In an exclusive interview Neal speaks to Marketing Magazine on why Dentsu’s One P&L structure is pivotal to delivering campaigns with a uniquely tailored fit for every brand

Q1: You have been in the business for a long time. The rise of digital has massively disrupted the industry. What does this disruption look like from where you sit?

Neal:We are in a world that is digitally transforming, and the consequence is that agencies need to face this head on and transition.

The traditional legacy media business is just no longer tenable. Clients want ROI, accountability and measurability.

Clients feel they find this in the digital ecosystem and that’s what makes it such a desirable proposition.

Q2: Do you believe that digital is set to leave traditional advertising in the dust?

Neal:Let’s face it, the proof is in the pudding. DAN’s 2020 ad spend forecast, which was released this week, indicated that digital is predicted to take 37.7% share of ad spend and looks to keep rising. The market is looking for outcome based solutions such as Programmatic, martech, customised geo-targeting and e-commerce tie-ups, for example. These solutions can offer ROI reporting and you can see why that appeals. The imminent rise of Tech solutions such as data analytics and CRM will serve to offer an even greater menu of options for advertisers.

With a third of total ad spend in Malaysia now invested in digital solutions, you can see that it’s going to have a knock on effect for traditional media formats.

But you know, OOH is evolving to offer digital solutions – DAN’s OOHZONE platform has completely digitised OOH media which means it’s tightly woven into our 360 digital media planning offer. By bringing OOH online it becomes a futuristic and evolved solution. 

But, while I am proud to say that Dentsu has an incredibly strong digital offer, it would be a terrible mistake for brands to assume that digital is an all or nothing exercise. As things stand, Dan’s 2020 ad spend forecast still has two thirds of investment funnelled to traditional platforms and that’s because the real world still exists in spite of the rise of the digital ecosystem! In my view the ideal solutions are those which blend every option in a way that is unique and delivers to the needs of each brand.

Q3: How is Dentsu positioned to adapt and thrive in this brave new world? 

Neal:As brands increasingly demand holistic media and creative solutions, they look for an agency that can absolutely bring to the table solutions that address that need.

We have incredible talent within the DAN family who are specialists within their fields. Whether that’s CRM consultancy, our Creatives, our Data analytics team, Programmatic, our talented Media Planners, our OOH or our Digital Branding gurus. Not only do they have forensic insight into the capabilities of their specialist area but crucially they know how to connect with each other to offer the integrated solutions that brands are looking for.

DAN’s One P&L setup is our advantage in the market. One profit, One loss. We’re all in the boat together come hell or high water.

And this setup means Dentsu Malaysia can bring together our people, our highly talented and skilled specialists, to work together to strike the spark.

 Q4: So How does One P&L differ from the way agencies have traditionally worked? 

Neal:If a client contacts me tomorrow with a particular need for a brand and I’m a creative I’ll guide them down the creative route. If I’m media buy, I’ll tell them that media is key. If I’m digital, I’ll tell them that search and performance will secure success. 

The reality now is that every time, we need to pull together a fluid team of the best of DAN talent and give the client the very best solution that incorporates the absolute finest skill sets that I can draw upon from within Dentsu.

It’s my job to try to create the spark each and every time. Not just to put forward propositions that spark with the client, but to bring together the people within Dentsu from across all the disciplines to spark with each other.

Q5: Beyond the disruption created by digital, the rise of in-housing is hovering as another existential agency threat. How are agencies like Dentsu looking to stay ahead of the game?

Neal: I’d like to draw an analogy which was used by Ashish Bhasin, CEO DAN APAC. In-housing is a bit like going to your local GP for medical advice. Like a general medical practitioner, your in-house team can be expected to have a broad knowledge of the subject and can execute within their capabilities. And that’s a great and empowering resource that every brand should be able to draw upon. But an agency is the equivalent of engaging the services of a consultant. Clients can expect their agency teams to have deep, well-honed knowledge, skills and contacts to execute to the very highest standards. Brands are valuable. They deserve the very best care.

Within Dentsu we have specialists with best in class capability – whether that be Creative, Search and Performance, Social or CRM – Dentsu sought the very best and brought them into our group. It’s these specialisms that brands leverage when they seek out our services.

What’s more, Dentsu has access to incredible resources that it would be very, very difficult to acquire as an in-house team.

For example, DAN EXPLORE is this incredible tool which gives an integrated view of our M1 panel data, Facebook, Youtube and Google search data by audience and category. As far as I know, Dentsu Malaysia is the only agency in market that can draw down on such detailed data-driven audience insights. Our creative teams are award-winning and spend their days honing and perfecting their art.

Because it is an art. Our traditional and digital media planning and buying teams really are at the top of their game with the right deals in place to ensure brands under Dentsu get the very best exposure.

And of course, our data analytics and CRM team are literally operating at the forefront of the industry and charting new frontiers. Pronto, our proprietary AI-powered analytics dashboard, conceived and developed in-house secured prestigious trophies at the 2019 Malaysia Tech Awards precisely because it is such an impressive piece of kit that harnesses machine learning to refine and perfect the effective placement and creation of digital marketing assets.

My view? It’s all change. But it’s all to play for. And what a ride it’s proving to be.

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