Biljana Kolaković: A formula for earning trust


We read and interpret data and use it to recognise which motional moments are important in the life of a consumer.

Interview with Biljana Kolaković, Regional Managing Director at UM, for Diplomacy&Commerce magazine’s Secret Formula of Communication insertation

Universal Media (UM) believes that the job of a 21st-century media agency is to tell a story about a product and make an idea lovable and known to consumers, whilst understanding all of the challenges of new technology. We offer you a tissue at the exact moment when you sneeze. In this time of new technologies and a plethora of information, it is important to understand places, time and context, as well as the split seconds that are important to consumers and relevant to the product being marketed.

The UM global network of agencies, to which your agency belongs, was awarded this year by the two most prestigious advertising and creativity magazines – AdAge and AdWeek. What challenges does this pose to you at the regional level? › These were awards for the best and most creative media agency, chosen among the entire global network of media agencies. On one hand, we have managed to retain our existing clients, while on the other we gained crucial new clients at a time when trust in media agencies is constantly being questioned. Given that advertisers entrust media agencies with their investments, it is understandable that clients want a reliable partner who is going to control their budget with the utmost prudence and success. Trust is easily broken. However, there is a formula for earning trust. There is a saying that trust equals the credibility-to-reliability-to-empathy ratio, on one hand, and personal interest, on the other. The aforementioned awards prove that we have perfected this formula. In terms of our region, we are proud of the fact that the noted trust formula has been recognised by our clients, with whom we have long-term, partner relations.We are also very proud of the fact that UM Beograd has been recognised by the BalCannes’ jury, and we are the only media agency that has made it into the TOP 25 regional projects.

It is quite obvious that all regional agencies have been investing in data processing and new tools. Where is the fine balance between the dominance of numbers and creativity? › UM is the first agency to understand the importance of data, and is also an agency that has been investing in data for a number of years, both in Serbia and the region. We compensate for the lack of industrial data by localising the tools that our network has developed. This means that we invest in research which generates data that is then processed with the help of software. This gives us great insight into consumer habits that are important to our clients. However, the key lies in analysing, understanding and translating data into the moments that are important for the lives of consumers. These moments help us reach consumers in an unobtrusive way and to achieve desired results.

Considering the current economic circumstances, do you find the market in which you operate too small, or is it big enough to find new and interesting clients? › Owing to our regional vision and global network, we don’t think of limits and we don’t feel distress. Through regional expansion, we have been given an opportunity to do business with clients from different categories and markets and, in that respect, to develop expertise in various segments. We are especially looking forward to the development of e-commerce in Serbia, which is still in its infancy and which will result in higher investments in mobile platforms and online media. This will also make it possible for small and medium-sized enterprises to go digital and become serious advertisers.

How can you survive in this industry, considering that we are living in a time when an increasing number of people dismiss advertisements on social networks and usually opt for advertisement-free media? › Having relevant and interesting idea is a general prerequisite and has always been a secret to success. Technology did not change people’s basic needs. We still want to have fun, to learn, to be loved and to progress. What is different is that, in today’s day and age, we are doing all of this with the help of new devices and platforms.

What is UM’s secret communication formula? › At this time the media has become very unpredictable and belongs to the group of industries that are considered as being the most advanced, along with IT and telecommunications. On one side, all of this creates endless opportunities for us, because we can tell from the abundance of data that people’s exposure to the media is much higher than it was ten years ago. On the other side, it is this abundance of content that causes a short attention span, provides an escape from boredom and keeps people interested for only a few seconds. We believe that the time has come to have a better understanding of data, to use technology, to integrate with creative ideas and to recognise small, personal media moments that are important to consumers, which is the key to the success of any brand today. I would like to illustrate this point by mentioning a widely popular print advertisement by Norwegian Air Shuttle for their flights to Los Angeles, which read “Brad is single again”.

THE SECRET FORMULA:To have a better understanding of data, to use technology, to integrate with creative ideas and to recognise small, personal media moments that are important to consumers.