Opinion of the Week: Marko Bojić, UM Sofia: “Seizing the attention of consumers is the key to success.”

So far, we have never featured an agency from Bulgaria on our website although it clearly is a part of so-called SEE region. Well that’s not the case anymore as we talked to Managing Director at UM Sofia, Marko Bojić. Established in 2013, UM Sofia is a part of I&F McCann Group, that just recently expanded its operations to Nordic countries. We asked Bojić about advertising landscape, creativity and state of digital Bulgaria and the media agency’s biggest challenges.

Marko Bojic, Managing Director at UM Sofia
Marko Bojic, Managing Director at UM Sofia

Creating Moments that matter

“It was basically a greenfield project where we had to gradually build our team, implement agency culture and know how, work on a lot of new business projects, be consistent in building our team and work on our position, reputation on the Bulgarian market with advertisers, media owners, other agencies and stakeholders,” Managing Director Marko Bojić describes the beginnings of UM’s office in Sofia. “It was not easy, but I must say that I am very proud with everything that we have achieved in past 4 years. UM Sofia has a client portfolio consisted of numerous local and international companies and team of 17 highly skilled and motivated media professionals.”

Bojić explains the agency’s mission is to create moments that matter and drive momentum for brands as in today’s era of media fragmentation, old models just simply don’t work. According to him, brands need to find new ways to capture attention and start conversations, while media needs to move from buying impressions to making impressions. He emphasises the importance of UM’s Moments, a new planning paradigm that helps brands identify crucial moments to captivate consumers’ attention, which is a key to success, according to Bojić. “Moments are the next evolution in storytelling. From identifying a moment, to designing a unique platform for a brand, to building a moment that doesn’t yet exist.”

UM Sofia operates within I&F McCann Grupa. How would you describe the cooperation? How does it affect your work with clients, you work with domestic clients only or with international as well?

We are thrilled to be a part of I&F McCann Grupa and IPG Mediabrands Network. Being part of the leading regional system was crucial for our starting success. It would be impossible to achieve it without support from our regional colleagues, exchange of the knowledge and experiences, coordination on our regional clients. UM as part of I&F McCann Grupa operates in 8 markets of SEE (ex-Yugoslavia countries, Bulgaria and Albania) and represents one of the leading media agencies in past years. Markets in SEE are more often considered as one region because of similar consumer behaviour, cultural and language similarities. Companies prefer to centralise their marketing and media activities for this region. We have answered to their need by integrating our media operations in SEE region. UM agencies are offering our business partners best teams of media professionals, same level of service in all countries in the region, with regional coordination from Belgrade, Zagreb, Sofia or any other regional capital.

UM Sofia cooperates with both local and international clients. Few of them have already experienced our regional synergy, most of them have plans for expansion of their media activity in neighbouring countries and this is I can see as a result of our good regional set up and service.


“We are living in the world when people’s attention is the new currency.”
“We are living in the world when people’s attention is the new currency.”

We don’t hear or read much about agencies from Bulgaria. How would you describe advertising/media landscape in Bulgaria and its biggest challenges?

I would say that Bulgarian advertising market is highly fragmented. All international networks are present with their agencies and battle for each once “part of the sky” is constant. On the other hand, TV as key media in Bulgaria is bipolar, with 2 major TV Groups – bTV Media Group (CME) and Nova Broadcasting Group (MTG) with almost equal market shares. To make situation more complex, during last two years we also have 2 TV audience measurement systems on the market – Garb and Nielsen. We have to work with both systems, since MTG is selling its inventory according to Nielsen Admosphere data while all other TV groups are selling according to Garb data. This is currently the biggest challenge for all media participants (advertisers, agencies, media owners).

Similar to other countries in the region, digital is on the rise and constantly gaining share of advertiser’s budgets. The integration of digital and offline media, measuring performance and impact of overall marketing activities and media investments on the operating results, and business performance, is the future of media agencies.

Is advertising in Bulgaria any different compared to advertising in other countries from the region? Is there anything specific that needs to be taken into consideration? There are probably some cultural factors.

Actually, there is no big difference compared to advertising in other countries in the region. We are all following more personalised communication with consumers, trying to reach them wherever they are and whatever device they are using. TV is still key media, but consumers are moving more and more to other devices where they choose what they want to see and when they want to see it. Prime time is now not only on TV, it is also on Facebook, Youtube, Viber, WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat. This is giving us a lot more possibilities to interact.



We can’t discuss marketing/advertising without creativity. What’s your take on creativity in Bulgaria?

We are living in age of abundance, surrounded by more media than ever before and with more ways to consume it and create it. We are living in the world when people’s attention is the new currency. The average attention span of an adult while looking at content was 12 seconds in 2000, and today it’s only 8 seconds! And in those 8 seconds you must “grab” their attention and convey a brand message. As I mentioned before, Seizing the attention of consumers today is the key to success. We have to find very smart and creative way to do it.

What do you think of this year’s Cannes festival and awarded campaigns? If we take into consideration the winning works, it looks like VR and AI will dominate 2017, would you agree? Do you think festivals and awards matter?

I couldn’t agree more. McCann’s ‘The Field Trip to Mars’, the first VR group experience with its 19 Lions proves it. VR and AI will be definitely new ways to bring brands closer to these new tech savvy consumers. Festivals and awards are one of the key motives for all of us in advertising business, both agencies and clients.

Digital is one of the buzzwords right now. How would you describe the position of digital in Bulgaria and in the region? At what stage is it?

Digital advertising is growing rapidly and is taking over shares from traditional advertising. There is around 4,2 million internet users in Bulgaria, out of which 3,3 million uses internet regularly.

Bulgaria is also following the trend of RTB – Programmatic buying. Programmatic buying has entered our market and advertisers recognised its amenities and importance. UM Sofia is one of the first agencies on Bulgarian market offering programmatic buying through our Ad tech unit, responsible for developing best-in-class programmatic technology solutions – Cadreon.

The emergence of smartphone (and 53% of Bulgarians possess them) has affected other devices to change and adapt, but also our communication with consumers. The media have become more personalized, interactive and brands have more opportunities to become part of our lives.

For last 3 years UM Sofia is participating in UM global social media study called Wave. Wave helps us not just to measure trends in social media usage and online content consumption and sharing, but we can have insights that help us to understand the desires and motivations of the people driving those trends. It provides fundamental insights which enable us to help brands in building long-term relationships with consumers.