Interview: Ian Nunoo, Javelin

06 Jul 2017 | 08.19 am

Interview: Ian Nunoo, Javelin

‘Programmatic advertising purchases will continue to grow’

06 Jul 2017 | 08.19 am

Advertising agency Javelin is a full service agency in terms of planning, buying, creating and executing for all media, with digital now foregrounding the mix, says Head of Digital Ian Nunoo


Javelin is a full service advertising agency. How has the company evolved in recent years to meet the demands of clients for digital advertising services?

Javelin has been steadily evolving for 30 years, from one room above a sweet shop to three floors of converted warehouse, and from a single phone to every kind of technology. Along the way we established Ireland’s first direct marketing specialist, and we have always been full service in the fullest sense of that description, planning, buying, creating and executing for all media, and none. As digital became central to everything our clients need to accomplish, we added the necessary skills, as we have done at every stage, as need or opportunity presented themselves.

We transitioned Toyota from The Best Built Cars in The World to Built for a Better World, both propositions originated by Javelin. We sent out a virtual chameleon to drum up digital business for BT. We once sent out whips in the post to sell seats at a racecourse. And we will offer whatever is next, too.

The convergence between digital and traditional has merged so much that there are no more lines. The multi-disciplinary approach to our clients advertising in general means we are often asked the “can you do” question, and by the nature of the agency we are more usually than not able to say yes. Digital is an area that is undoubtedly growing, and we expect the same amount of growth within the agency. We’re winning business because of our innovative and results focused approach to digital advertising, and have the scale to be quite agile to cope with the varying demands that come our way from digital. We have our fundamentals in place, good targeting, good buying, and great content to ensure both success of the agency and our clients as well.

In the past year, is there much evidence that online/digital marketing has moved up the communications planning agenda with large brands?

In our opinion, there was no way that it could not! It affects our lives on day-to-day basis, and digital advertising has come a long way since the days when Google search was the only option. Digital as a channel is perfect for brands on a number of levels:
• Gives you a platform to have something interesting to say
• Create reasons for people to talk about you
• Develop trust and make the brand even more meaningful.

Digital has gone from being only perceived as a call-to-action based, direct response vehicle, into something that is so much more comprehensive and valued for both brands and audiences mainly because of the experiences we can create. The digital after thought, when briefs came in from clients and having to remind them that digital should be in the mix, has changed into digital forefront and being specifically covered in briefs for us to explore, which is great!

The cost effective, and dynamic format of digital has meant that any client we have had that dips their toe into digital, have generally come back for more. It’s not just a pretty ad any more – it’s business driving, business with more valuable insight.

Javelin creates other types of advertising from TV to radio, direct mail and print. As regards the digital advertising, what’s the benefit for the client when it’s under the same roof as the other ad activity?

Javelin’s capabilities have grown in line with the market, we were a direct, media and advertising company from inception and so there is a culture of learning and interaction across disciples. As we began to offer an increasing number of digital services this in-grained collaborative approach allowed us to better tell our clients stories and plan the media and message to have the best result at each moment of consumer journey.

As we have grown to offer a broader range of digital service it is done organically with all team members upskilling, it’s not a land grab of separate silos in an effort to become an integrated agency. The whole process is a lot more fluid. We don’t just talk about integration, we are integrated, and our remit is the performance of the brand, not the performance of just one medium.

We have knowledge on all platforms/ channels, so our decisions are rooted in fulfilling our client’s objectives with the best channels possible. With a broad spectrum of platforms at our disposal there are some elements of economy of scales that are directly passed on to client. All production is under one roof, and we can quickly adapt. One agency, one point of contact, streamlined communication, more effective output, better results for the brands we work with.

Most people engage with a lot of social media every day. So how do you achieve cut-through?

Most people don’t understand how to make content for social media. We try to create thumb stopper moments (content that grabs the attention of the audience so much so that they stop scrolling and pay attention to what’s in front of them). Social media is an exceptionally crowded place and our ability to make content that stands out and be noticed is second to none.

The process of which, sometimes, is counter intuitive to what our audiences are used to, which is part of the reason it does so well, combined with fantastic creative. However we spend a lot of time understanding our audiences, and to be honest, if you don’t genuinely do that with every campaign it’s doomed from the start to some degree.

In some respects the click, like and share metrics we have at our disposal have moved towards measuring connection to a brand. We can measure connection just as effectively and be more of a valuable metric than the other metrics through our targeted audiences actions essentially changing the way you feel towards a brand. That mentality along with using the newest technology has the potential to create amazing cut through.

There has been a big shift to programmatic ad buying for digital display. What’s your view on this trend?

The programmatic sector has been one that has been defined by innovation and massive growth over the last number of years, as would be expected from nascent technology. 60% of digital media we run is programmatic, and I believe we are one of the few agencies that have such a majority split as being quite forward thinking in our approach to digital.

As an agency, we have access to a wealth of customer data, but the key to success is the way in which this data is used and how it informs the campaign. However this has not been without its problems, a large number of which have arisen from the sectors refusal to acknowledge some of the inherent concerns advertisers have ahead of advertisers asking questions regarding these same concerns.

As the adtech sector becomes more mature, I would expect a shift, on multiple measures, from quantity towards quality. To that end I think that lessons learned in programmatic ad buying for digital display we bear fruit as more consumer-focussed inventory becomes available.

The trends on programmatic as the channel develops will be programmatic advertising purchases will continue to grow. Eventually, these purchases will exceed traditional, manual ad buying (we are already experiencing this). There will be an upsurge in messaging in mobile apps. We live in an era of constant connectivity and mobiles gives us the power to be on message at the moments that really matter to our audiences.

In my opinion a machine can’t beat the creativity of an individual, and the power of idea has always been visible through the work we have done from a digital prospective. However I believe creative automation through multivariate or A/B testing will becoming ever more used to influence the success of any programmatic campaign. Personalisation will grow more sophisticated; we have seen that audience feel more comfortable with personalised messaging.


Photo: Ian Nunoo (right) with Javelin colleagues (from left) Austin Gleeson, Sean Carolan and Adam Monks 


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