Terms like campaign planning, optimization, and coordination were not yet in vogue in the Mad Men days of advertising. But today, skills in these areas are what sets media agencies apart.
The fragmented media consumption means that agencies have to be more intelligent in the management of campaigns, from adapting strategies on the fly to minutizing the costing and billing of customers.
"If we want to do something that is omnichannel, the entire back end has to be sorted in order to do that," said Daniel Chapman, General Manager for Products and Solutions at Havas.
Deciding whether to work in-house or find a planning and billing platform provider has become an important question for media agencies as brands now have the same tools on hand. If a brand can analyze consumer behavior across platforms and then optimize campaigns itself, what is the value of a media agency?
Marc Pritchard, Procter & Gamble's Chief Brand Officer, pointed out this dilemma at the ANA Media and Measurement Conference in September, saying the CPG giant would negotiate with networks right up front after lamenting the "information asymmetry" that has the sell side opposite the buy side. By bypassing the agencies and the volume they bring to the negotiating table, P&G sees essentially more value in data literacy, which drives ad prices, than in mere purchasing power.
“When it comes to data, as brands we can have more of our own data sets. And if that's the case, the next thing we can do is make direct media purchases, ”said Ana Milicevic, director and co-founder of management consultancy Sparrow Advisers. "It's a shift in perception of where the value of buying media comes from."
Bill Durrant, Founder and President of Exverus Media, said that as media plans become more complex, the back-end systems that support those campaigns also store and analyze data that is used for cross-platform campaigns. However, the company's main focus is always on strategy and not the most unique billing and reconciliation system.
"We are not an agency that wants to spend time with those things that are honestly important, but not central and not central to what defines our offering," said Durrant.
Tech platforms that support these processes are also adapting to changes in the media. Mediaocean, the widely-used planning and billing platform for businesses in the media and advertising space, bought Mar-tech company 4C Insights in July to prepare for the rise of TV streaming as customers continue to cut their cable subscriptions.
Havas offices in the UK and France used a similar platform – FreeWheel & # 39; s Strata – in September after deploying an in-house solution. The independent agency Exverus Media is examining whether it should build something of its own or fit in with a technology platform.
For Havas, differentiation means digging into larger data sets like interest rates, consumer confidence reports, and geolocation data. Chapman said the industry is "easily distracted by things like audience-based planning," which has its merits, but isn't the type of data "that really makes a difference to customers."
"We can time stamp this investment against non-digital channels," Chapman continued. "Then [we can start] modeling that against the performance we see."
According to Milicevic, brands also want to use data in more areas than just media planning, such as developing new products or improving their supply chain. Agencies could help by bringing in the multiple client perspective to better inform the media purchases.