Maia Novolan (Syscom Digital): “I want to see more willingness to accept innovation and digital technology and some big clients assuming the role of market educators”

Newsroom 19/02/2019 | 11:53

SYSCOM Digital is a full-service interactive agency, made up of a proactive team, with more than 10 years’ experience. The agency offers its clients integrated digital marketing strategies that combine online marketing tactics with off-line ones. BR talked with Maia Novolan, Managing Director, about the agency’s and the local marcomm industry’s 2018, the trends and hopes for 2019, but also about the possibility of a new economic crisis and how it would impact the local industry.

By Romanita Oprea

How was 2018 for the agency?

2018 was a very good year for Syscom Digital, from several points of view. Overall, our business registered an increase, and we succeeded to grow our Digital Experiential Marketing Division, so having the chance to develop and implement more creative and innovative customer interaction projects than ever. Combining instruments, logistics and interactive technologies with the digital media, we bet our cards on a new service with big growth potential in the next period.

We continued the brand engagement experiences for our clients in the online and mobile environment, and developed interactive creative concepts both online2offline and offline2online, bringing as much as possible the technology into retail business, always focusing on results.

In terms of growing and diversification our range of special projects, 2018 was a great year, as we conducted Experiential Marketing digital projects at events, conferences, shopping galleries, etc. This is the new direction towards which we are increasing our digital tools logistics – touch screens, digital totems, interactive shop windows, Kinect components, interactive projections, extra-sensorial tools and sensors, 360-degree video constructions etc.

Interactive Retail is the direction in which we invest more and more.

What was the situation like for pitches?

Last year’s experience was as open and peaceful as in the year before. We won most of the pitches we were involved in and we had to withdraw from others from purely objective reasons and business calculations.

How would you characterize the local communication industry in 2018 in terms of budgets, campaigns, creativity, etc? 

In my perception, last year we could feel an upgrade and encouragement in terms of creativity, innovation, number of campaigns in the market and little more generous budgets.

2018 was a better year compared to years before, when having limited budgets, and therefore creativity was also restricted, so less innovation narrowed down the motivation to go beyond the horizon to create outstanding campaigns.

Also, as the digital is still on the raise, the budgets allocated to digital marketing in any form of it, were keeping happily their ascending trend.

What were the most important changes & novelties in the agency in 2018 and how did they come to happen? 

With us it is always about innovation and new technology. Besides our classic service delivery to our clients, every year we are driven to create something new. Through our division of Experiential Marketing, we are continually developing new tools for brand engagement; therefore, we launched booths with RFID engagement kit, digital interactive shelfs, sensorial projections and some other retail activation tools based on latest software technology and complicated names .

What were your most wanted services by clients in 2018?

The clients were mainly interested in interactive experiences for their customers using online and mobile platforms, mobile applications and instore activations with digital tools. We also have participated in events where we offered the participants special 3D displays, multi-sensor totems and interactive booths, the customers having the opportunity to experience and get in touch with technological innovation. We are so happy to discover that clients are more and more interested in our digital products designed to deliver memorable brand experiences, combining on-site interaction with the sharing- ability of social media.

How is your agency positioning itself on the Romanian advertising market now?

We position ourselves as an Interactive Digital Marketing agency and even if our name has no international sound like multinational agencies, we have a very strong expertise and our level of innovation is above many of them. Our new direction with the digital experiential marketing division put us on a very special place, where it is hard to find another agency on the market having all our competencies, especially that more than 90 percent of our activity is produced in-house.

We have a long time experience and expertise, and we implemented over time several pioneering projects and developed a series of special projects for the first time in Romania, some of them unique in Europe.

We understand that the digital experiential marketing is a natural step in developing and improving consumer interaction. It generates not only content, word-of-mouth and online share-ability, but also a set of states that the traditional marketing does not achieve: emotions, brand awareness, product knowledge in a pleasant context, special and memorable emotional ties that ultimately result in long-term consumer loyalty.

What were the campaigns you admired in the local industry and why?

As a professional, I am always oriented and interested in return on investment and I am looking to fulfill my clients’ objectives, therefore for me a successful project is the one that generates great results. Some projects are just beautiful in terms of creativity, copywriting or visuals, but sometimes they do not really score on client objectives. So to me, if a project have been judged by a team of professionals and won the big prize in a competition based on its results versus costs, it has all my admiration.

What trends did you notice on the local market? 

Social Media platforms and tools are constantly evolving, allowing more sophisticated real-time integrations, therefore in the future the content will be more diverse, more rich and as much as real-time possible. Although, as content videos will still be big, 3D visuals, possibly holograms and augmented reality will become more and more attractive.

I also noticed that brands care more about building real communities around them and this is a part where we can help a lot. We can use our creativity together with the technology and digital expertise to create valuable content to spice up people’s interaction with brands.

What do you wish for 2019 from this point of view?  What do you wish for the local industry this year? 

I wish to see more willingness to accept innovation and digital technology and some big clients assuming the role of market educators for consumers to embrace new technology. Because of that, I wish to see faster adoption of new platforms and technologies. An early adoption will lead to a series of good opportunities to take for the next years. The tech breakthroughs will change the way audiences interact and connect with brands.

I really cannot wait that us, Syscom Digital, to be part of this chapter where tech and digital will make a huge positive impact on brands and audiences.

Do you believe a second economic crisis will come?

Some believe that it is looking like history may repeat itself and in the economic landscape there are some arguments for it. Some don’t think another crisis like that is likely anytime soon. At this point, I’m not sure that Romania will be affected this year, however European macroeconomic situation may impact our country by the end of the year.  

If so, how will it affect the Romanian marcomm industry?

Well, looking back at the last crisis, the marcomm industry will maybe be affected again by lowering its budgets. Logically, budgets for marketing are the first affected, therefore they shall be reduced and companies will look for more cost-effective ways to reach their target audiences. 

What did you learn from the last crisis and how prepared are you for a new one?

I’ve learnt that in a crisis people return to brands they know and trust – and trust will be a key theme as well as value for money. So, building the trust should be a constant of the brands’ communication all the time. We can help with building the long-term relationship between brands and audiences by creative, engaging, rewarding and interactive ways that last over time.

We are prepared for everything future may reserve us, because we expect to see further migration of promotion and advertising from traditional to digital and experiential, so the kind of staff we are good in delivering

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