Digital veterans launch new data-driven creative agency

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A group of digital agency veterans have come together to found Hoorah, a data-driven creative agency which aims to deliver real business value to its customers through people-based marketing. The four founders have each been part of some of the biggest names in the South African digital spaces.

CEO Shaune Jordaan was, together with Chris Corbert, the former co-founder of search marketing specialist agency Synergize, which was bought out by Publicis in 2013 and merged with Saatchi & Saatchi to form Saatchi & Saatchi Synergize. One of his final acts while there was to move agency’s operations into Performics, one of the world’s biggest media businesses.

Taking on the CSO role meanwhile is Jay Thomson, who co-founded Liquorice with Miles Murphy. At the time of its 2014 acquisition by Publicis’ DigitasLBi, it was one of the biggest independent digital agencies in South Africa.

Head of Media, Tamsin Kingma previously built one of the first programmatic teams in South-Africa and, while working at a major media agency, led a team of 15 media specialists with a client portfolio ranging from Africa to Europe.

Neil Pursey, who’s heading up Hoorah’s in-bound marketing operations is also the founder of digital training academy Webgrowth, meaning he’s no stranger to the startup space.

While the four founders believe that the wave of digital agency acquisitions by the likes of WPP and Publicis were important, they’re hoping to bring something new to the party with Hoorah.

“The agencies which were bought out by the big holding companies were pioneers,” says Jordaan. “They were doing things that no one else in South Africa was doing at the time and were often tasked with bringing big brands into the digital space.”

According to Jordaan, things have moved on since then. Almost everyone now has a digital presence and has the basics nailed down.

“What we’re looking to do at Hoorah is make use of a new blend of technologies to deliver the kind of data-driven marketing that produces tangible business outcomes,” he says.

While data is important to the work which Hoorah does, the founders are at pains to stress that it must be blended with creativity in order to be effective. Here too, Hoorah’s approach will be different to most other agencies.

“In a lot of agencies, you’ll be given a creative concept and asked to make it work with the programmatic and data tools at your disposal,” says Thomson. “We think that’s the wrong way around. Instead, you should use data to create interesting and unique experiences for your potential customers.”

By adopting this approach, the Hoorah team believes it’ll circumvent some of the criticisms that have been levelled at programmatic marketing in the past.

“There’s a sense, especially among the general public, that programmatic advertising means you’ll buy something online and continue to see ads for it for the next three months,” says Kingma. “It doesn’t have to be like that at all. Done properly, it can anticipate your needs and make your customer journey more pleasant”.

Despite having only just opened its doors, Hoorah already has clients onboard including the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF)’s South African office and Rawson Property.

“The fact that we had clients from the get-go was a massive validation of what we’re doing,” says Pursey. “It shows that our focus on data-driven, people-based marketing resonates with businesses, especially as they start to see the results roll in”.

Those results, Jordaan says, are because Hoorah’s approach allows digital marketing to reach its full potential.

“In today’s marketplace, you need to talk to a consumer online as if they’re standing right in front of you,” the Hoorah CEO says. “But this is only possible if you understand your consumers. To understand people – their habits, their browsing patterns, their likes and dislikes – you need to dig deep into the data to uncover golden insights.”

Once you’ve got those insights, he points out, “you might leverage existing technologies or build new ones from scratch.”

“One thing’s for sure though, it definitely doesn’t mean using the spray and pray methods of old.”

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