Miloš Aleksić, Digital Account Manager in Direct Media gave an interview for Media Marketing.
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 share the little spare time they have with their colleagues in order to provide them as much information as possible and help them achieve even greater success. This is why Miloš writes a blog, www.odvratajzing.com, which, among other things, includes the list of marketing agencies in Serbia, Online Advertising Dictionary, and the Little Temple of Planning…
He knows a lot and constantly contemplates, changes, improves, upgrades. Miloš is a great person to talk to about the development of communication industry.
Media Marketing: You are writing a blog called odvratajzing.com. I first came across this term in the book by Lazar Džamić “Advertising pAge”, in which he compiled his articles published in various publications. Why “Odvratajzing”?
Miloš Aleksić: Because I wasn’t planning on Lazar coming back! Jokes aside, his writings in “Advertising pAge” were among the first signposts that helped me understand advertising and marketing. The name of the website is an act of homage to Lazar and the influence he has on me. Now, when we got to know each other in person, I’m even fonder of the name. The website does not only serve as a vent for my thoughts, but is also loaded with useful content for practitioners, clients and students. There are many plans to further improve it, when time permits.
Media Marketing: When writing 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 hate it literally, of course. I just don’t enjoy some of its aspects: the obsession with technology as a cure-all, the tendency to think short-term, the lack of scruples and ethics in some actors, and more than anything, our failure to take responsibility for the influence we wield in our society: it shapes and feeds us, but we do the same in return, forming a strong feedback loop. This is why I liked the name “Odvratajzing” so much.
Media Marketing: And why do you love it?
Miloš Aleksić: Famous and ingenious Jerry Della Femina once said: “I honestly believe that advertising is the most fun you can have with your clothes on”. In my opinion, this is the best definition and the reason why I’m back in the industry, even though I had previously left it.
Media Marketing: You have posted a list of advertising agencies in Serbia on your blog. Why?
Miloš Aleksić: Because I knew there was a need for it. Some ten years ago, a few of us ran local blogs dedicated to marketing, and a guy called Ratko Božović created and published the first such list on his website back then. This proved to be very useful, so I wanted to revive the effort and thus contribute 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 finish it?
Miloš Aleksić: Once again, the starting point was the need I identified, first of all in my own day-to-day work. The number of visits to the dictionary pages is growing at a steady pace, and now I finally have the link (www.odvratajzing.com/online-advertising-recnik), which I can send to whoever needs it, which all makes me very happy. It took me a tremendous amount of time to prepare the Dictionary and make it public-appropriate. The definitions were drawn from my personal experience and various other sources, and then simplified, translated… Now all I need to do is update and upgrade it.
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 planners.
Miloš Aleksić: I’d say that I’m merely providing a shortcut for people to reach them because those I mention don’t need any promotion: all roads lead to them. They are all globally recognized as authorities in strategy/planning. It’s a veritable little Parthenon, hence the name. The idea was to compose something I wish I had come across ten years ago myself: an overview of the most important and most respected practitioners and educators in the field of strategic communications. I’ve attempted to present the core and essence of it in one place, to the benefit of future generations interested in the concept. The essence of good practice, one click away.
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 are now digital, interweaving and intermingling. Our lives have been digitized. The traditional verticals in which media systems used to function have been irreversibly sundered and 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”. This is why it is so important not to insist on the artificial boundaries between those who “do digital” and their colleagues in traditional media as this is not the real situation on the ground and in the lives of people.
Media Marketing: Account planning and creative strategy? How much creativity is there in media planning?
Miloš Aleksić: My favorite topic, ever since I joined the agency famous for excellence in media planning. Creativity is present and becoming ever more necessary due to the growing number of both advertisers and the ways in which they advertise. In the last decade, in the light of the changing media landscape, a new discipline has emerged in advanced markets: comms planning. It connects the analysis and rigor of a media planner with 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 story, trying to keep the people who communication is aimed at 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 right away) snap out of our meaty hands. I’m very glad that Direct Media has recognized this and is developing comms planning, thus investing in its own future.
Media Marketing: Society-technology-communication. How big is the impact of technology on communication today, and how much does it influence changes in people and society in general? Are we going to become slaves of technology in the true sense of the word?
Miloš Aleksić: Many of us are already slaving away. Technology and society function like the communicating vessels, and their interactions are mutating faster than can be understood even by those who created them, let alone the users, states, lawmakers… There is a sense of insecurity and anxiety. Robot armies are slowly becoming a reality. Facebook activity strongly influenced the US presidential elections. Before that, there was Twitter and the Arab Spring. Mobile apps build on behavioral psychology and Las Vegas tricks to capture our attention. “Fake news” and other forms of deception and relativization of truth have been largely enabled by the development of communications technology. And advertising, which finances and is directly responsible for some of the above is looking more and more like the famous scene from Minority Report… It looks as if there’s very little space and time for us to sit down and properly think about this. Without this, we can’t achieve a good long-term result. I refuse to believe that we should accept this state of affairs.
Media Marketing: In your opinion, 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 some time to get to the bottom, and then systematically test possible solutions. I think that the biggest threat to our industry comes from the commoditization of our services. If Google, Facebook and Amazon succeed in presenting us as identikit wholesale market vendors of vegetables, we’re not going to fare well. I don’t think agencies will disappear, but there is room for changes in business models, that were almost unimaginable until recently, and a need to test them. I often read how US shops already experiment with entertainment, software, apps and their placement on the market. This is a very interesting field for creative agencies, for example. However, this necessitates a paradigm shift in what we actually do and where the boundaries lie. Are we in the business of making advertisements, or enabling 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: This would be far from easy. Both UK and USA, with their powerful trade associations and legal systems, have trouble standardizing 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 trade associations, such as IAA and IAB Serbia, whose mission is to make the journey shorter and smoother, should be supported by ever more people from the industry. It is great that the increasing number of local agencies and media houses are becoming aware of 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 classroom. 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 up to date with trends?
Miloš Aleksić: That’s right, a degree is of little use here… Today it is all about agile methods, UX paradigms, Customer Journey research, and tomorrow, there will be some new topics (VR, AR, voice interfaces, etc.). Continuous learning is a given, and 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 the newly acquired knowledge. As Bill Bernbach said, our job is to be concerned 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 advertising in the future. And that’s all the truth and encouragement that I need.