Sandra Sotelo, Managing Director, PHD Spain

September is always a key month for the advertising industry, but 2020’s ‘back to school’ period – in a market forecasting a fall in annual advertising investment of between 15% and 20% – presents more peculiarities than ever.

To discover more about how advertising and media agencies are facing the current challenges and opportunities, MarketingDirecto.com spoke to Sandra Sotelo, MD of PHD Spain.

By now we should be preparing for ‘back to school’, yet the month of September is marked by uncertainty. How is PHD preparing and coping with this ‘new normal’?

We have been working for many months to make the return safe, minimising the risk for our teams. Our two offices in Madrid and Barcelona are currently open with a maximum 50% capacity.

In this new hybrid work model, which is undoubtedly here to stay, the important thing for PHD is to develop a flexible working environment where the quality of the work prevails over other factors, allowing us to adapt to the changing needs of our market and clients.

What differences stand out from ‘back to school 2020’ compared to other years?

September is usually the month in which, while keeping track of the last quarter, the agencies define our strategic plan for the coming year. This 2020, of course, has its own rules.

The pandemic has caused profound changes in the ecosystem and in the consumer, causing changes and transformations that were already underway to accelerate. We have to focus on building communication solutions and products that allow us to differentiate ourselves and grow in 2021 in a market that is slowly recovering, but without a doubt it will not be at 2019’s investment levels.

Over the last few months, programmatic advertising has proven to be a model that is perfectly suited to online activity. What possibilities would you say it offers compared to other advertising formats?

From my point of view we are already in the third era of programmatic advertising. The first was fundamentally based on automation; the second on the use of audiences in which data is more relevant than inventory; and we started a third wave in which programmatic makes the leap to the rest of the media. Therefore, for me, is not what it offers compared to other formats, but what format in the coming years will not have programmatic components.

The reality is that media that until now we called “off” is increasingly connected. In general, these media are making huge technological advancements, which allows them to converge with digital environments. It is precisely this point of convergence that makes it possible for programmatic advertising or a version of it to be a possibility in these media.

Sandra Sotelo also discusses PHD’s recent ‘voice marketing’ work with ŠKODA; the fast progression of eCommerce and online consumer profiling; and how brands can help adapt products and services to this new reality. Read Sotelo’s full interview on MarketingDirecto.com.