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Digital Advertising Insight: Aisling Blake

The new female boss of digital agency Radical says that that most of her clients' budgets go on Facebook and Google.

The rapid pace of change in the world of digital advertising is evidenced by the career path of Aisling Blake, (pictured), the new managing director of Radical, the digital arm of ad agency Core Media.

She graduated with a business and languages degree from UCD and then got involved in marketing. Her curiosity about Google Adwords led her to seek a role in a small search agency, which was bought by Core Media a few years ago.

With Radical boss Justin Cullen assuming a role to head up Core Media's new data group, Blake was selected as his successor. She's quite frank about the fact that she has no idea about the challenges that lie ahead.

“It may sound a bit philosophical, but with digital technology changing so fast, what we thought was a challenge six months ago turns out to be something completely different,” she explains.

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“New things come along all the time, and as long as we have great people in Radical and we are quick to go with that change, then I suppose we can overcome whatever challenge comes along,” she adds.

Radical was named Agency of the Year at the recent Social Media Awards, sponsored by Bord Gais. In Blake's view, Radical's role is to be a problem solver for clients.

“It could be a paid media solution that we have for one of our clients to connect with customers, through display advertising or search. But we also solve problems through analytics, such as examining the consumer's journey on the client's website and trying to make that smoother. So really what we do is solve problems using digital and technology.”

No surprisingly, Facebook is the platform most favoured by Radical's clients for social media marketing. “Facebook is where the consumers are, but it's very difficult to reach your target audience through Facebook alone,” says Blake.

“So we are beginning to layer in other social platforms like Twitter and more image-led platforms such as Instagram and Vine.”

Meanwhile though, Google hasn't gone away. “Google is still very important to our clients,” says Blake. “I think search is going through a bit of a renaissance now after all the buzz surrounding social media. For a lot of our clients, search is the bread and butter of what they do. If they turned off search, they would be turning off a lot of their sales. YouTube accounts for a large part of our clients' budgets as well.”

A recent development in digital display advertising is programmatic buying, which basically is a method to place display ads on multiple website a lot quicker than was possible before. “We used to buy media by sending an email to the media owner and now we just do it through a system,” says Blake.

“There are different elements like real-time bidding, which means that you are buying a particular audience in a competitive marketplace, very similar to search. It just means that we can be very efficient, save a lot of time but also be very targeted with the audience that we want to address.”

One reason advertisers like digital is all the figures it throws up. “Digital advertising is absolutely still driven by metrics, but there are different measures of effectiveness, depending on what you are trying to do,” says Blake.

“So if it's brand advertising, then the metric is all about viewability and how many people saw the ad. If it's all about sales, then the measures for effectiveness are conversion rates and return on investment.” (August 2014)

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