Media agencies - centre stage rather than side-lined?
Despite what some clients might think, media agencies are adapting well to an increasingly fragmented landscape, writes adconnection's Catherine Becker. Read the article here
I read with interest Dominic Mills' article on Delusions of Adequacy on Mediatel Newsline and was saddened to hear many clients feel media agencies are not equipped to answer key challenges required by today's marketers.
I remember when I started in the industry and media was given 10 minutes at the end of the creative presentation, usually presented over sandwiches, and we could measure very little. Now, with sophisticated real-time data analysis and genuine understanding of exactly what works and what doesn't, media is, in my experience, leading the strategy and solutions.
Today we work in partnership with clients at the very top board-level for established companies. Often with start-ups or newly funded companies from venture capitalists we will work all the way through to inputting into the business plan, through to implementation, measurement, and feeding back to the board/investors on results. No longer is the media agency side-lined.
The huge changes and fragmentation in media has meant our role is even more vital. It's not just a question now of briefing a creative agency to "do a TV ad" or a PR agency to "create some buzz or cut through", it's a much more strategic and integrated framework of communications channels woven together in a central theme based on true consumer insight.
Media agencies have had to adapt quickly and move faster than ever before, and in doing so are now consistently delivering on the following five key areas:
1. Managing the explosion of customer data
Media agencies are absolutely delivering this. Not only are we learning from the new social media, mobile data and tracking of customers from first media contact all the way through the purchase cycle through to sale and lifetime value, we are also using this data to target consumers.
We use a sophisticated social PMD which allows us to target within minute groups, all electronically, not just in terms of demographics but down to social media preferences, likes, and purchase habits using client's first party data. We can target extremely accurately on a number of platforms including on Facebook, Twitter and Gmail.
On Facebook, for example, rather than serve a creative we think will work against a specified target group, we are able to input 200+ images, 200+ headlines and almost infinite text combinations. Our systems are able to read the conversions and sale of those customers to determine the best combination of copy and creative to deliver the greatest ROI.
By harnessing the data yielded from our systems, we have significantly improved the effectiveness of our clients' campaigns.
2. Analysing and using data to automate or personalise marketing communications
The automation is shown in the above examples, but personalisation is absolutely possible too. We are able to display the name of our customer not only in the text of ads but also superimposed within video and creative. The growth of digital - not just online and mobile but also on, for example, digital outdoor - means we can modify ads to be highly personalised.
This extends to harmonised buying across offline as well as online. A good example of this was a recent campaign for our client, Maplin, in which we ran harmonised TV and social. We had the hashtag #maplinmoment displayed on the TV ad and we served Twitter ads exclusively to those hashtagging about the programme in which our TV ads where shown so we knew they were watching.
Crucially, when consumers responded, we had round-the-clock Maplin experts to answer individual queries which not only led to huge engagement and a massive increase in sales, but also made the whole experience for the individual consumer highly personal.
3. Exploiting new channel and device choices
It is vital that media agencies stay ahead of the curve when it comes to the latest trends, channels and devices. At adconnection we have created the annual Innovations Challenge - an event that pits media owners against each other in a highly competitive environment.
Each media owner is given just five minutes to pitch a new media idea, not sold to any other client or agency and completely new to their business. It's a great social event, it generates three to four media firsts a year for our clients, and it ensures we are aware of all new channels and device options.
Alongside the above, we are often beta-partners with the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Google to maximise the opportunities of these new channels. This is all fundamental to future proofing our clients against the changes and the multi-screen world, and media agencies can and should deliver these solutions.
4. Overcoming financial constraints and demonstrating ROI
This is one area in which media agencies have been more established. As the performance agency, we have absolutely identified that financial constraints are one of the key challenges clients face (it's in the first page of our creds), and we have the teams and the systems to measure and demonstrate ROI.
The majority of our clients only rebook a campaign if they can demonstrate the positive ROI of the previous one so it is essential we set up all the measurement in advance to deliver this.
The great thing is that media is now more measurable than ever so we can absolutely deliver this. Because we are the ones buying the media, we can see this in real-time so are best placed to get back to clients and make the changes in real time to further optimise. Our flexible trading arrangements with the great relationships we have with media owners enable us to do this.
5. Generating content
We have recognised that content marketing is a key seismic shift in our media business on many levels and we've created considerable cross-media content for a number of our clients. For the broadband provider Relish, for example, we recently developed a content strategy that resulted in the client ranking higher than its big spending competitors in the natural listings on targeted Google search results.
Media agencies are extremely well placed to generate effective content for their clients - we have the consumer insight (thanks to rigorous research techniques) and the targeting and retargeting tools and capabilities.
At adconnection we create strategies to work across all comms channels (PR, media, creative, content, CRM, etc.) as well as a strong digital offering with industry-leading analysis and optimisation systems.
Media agencies absolutely deliver and strive to get a deeper relationship and more effective result at the top table. Our closeness to media owners and divergent skill sets mean that media agencies can be in a unique place to tie all these fundamental needs together to deliver results.