A decade on, a market with a population of three million is now home to around 100 agencies, along with thousands of publishers and global technology vendors. It has created new opportunities but, at the same time, given rise to tense competition – something that is forcing us to evolve and innovate at speed.
The reason for this explosive growth is because we have been incredibly quick to absorb what has been learned by markets that adopted digital advertising and the technology that runs alongside it. We see ourselves as benefiting from global knowledge and experience and it is something that has ensured our digital market has been spotted by key industry players and global agencies. As a result, our local ad networks have been forced to innovate in order to be competitive. They have worked on building and scaling their products to deliver for global businesses – it has sparked a new beginning for the whole media industry in Lithuania.
However, the past couple of years have been a challenging period for our agencies, advertisers and publishers. The digital comms market in Lithuania has witnessed a fundamental change in the way it is structured and organised. We have had to adopt new ways of working, adjust our business goals and objectives, and bring teams close together that previously would not have crossed paths. We have also had to learn a lot of new skills as the adoption of programmatic has increased – and it’s something we have aimed to lead as an agency, by skilling up and bringing our clients and partners forward with us.
Long gone are the days when, as an agency, we had to convince a client to use ad-serving technology – in fact, we sometimes find that the advertisers we work with are a catalyst for change. They are ambitious about what technology can achieve for them and keen to work alongside us to innovate and deliver it. What sits behind this is a strong local digital environment with solid internet penetration of about 70 per cent. It has set the stage for forward-thinking business models to emerge that embrace technology fast, and this naturally raises the bar for agency partners.
So this is where we currently are in Lithuania as we enter 2016: succeeding as a rapidly developing and fast-growing digital market where innovation evolves from a market demand, and with agencies playing an essential role in delivering against that demand.
And the future? It relies on us continuing to challenge our clients, media and technology partners and, of course, ourselves. In doing so, I see us not only gaining a competitive advantage but contributing new ideas and ways of working that benefit the global digital advertising industry and help take us all forward.
Donatas Tamelis is the managing director, iProspect Lithuania