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The Next Evolution for an Agency

September 25, 2016

When programmatic first arrived a few years back agencies wholeheartedly adopted it. The ability to finally buy media for your client at a price that was representative to its true value was groundbreaking. For publishers it obviously stirred things up a fair bit and caused them to think on their feet, change their ways and update their sales model.

Move forward to 2016 and programmatic is no longer a tool in its own right, just a small part of a new mix. Publishers, after a couple of years of some panic, scrambling and general denial have blown me away with what they are doing to essentially defend their pricing. Publishers being thrown out of their comfort zone saw them bring new brains on board, expand offerings and advance techniques for audience development and modeling.

Research, data, inventory and customised content; amalgamated into one clean and easy to purchase package. Clients can buy an audience, not an impression but, adding to that, they can consider some of these audiences modeled with up-to-date research techniques that substantiate claims made by the provider, increasing value for the segment. Gone are the days where the information used is months old, people can be confident that the details are days, maybe hours old, allowing for greater confidence and more relevancy.

With publishers moving fast, developing richer offerings to ensure they continue achieving budgets, they allow clients to take advantage of what’s on offer and make bold moves on their own. They too have built teams dedicated to managing their own data, applying it to the ready source of inventory to ensure they reach the “right people at the right time”. They run complicated audience models built with the help of companies such as Quantium and apply these to campaigns to achieve richer and stronger results.

However smart businesses are, we still seem to have many siloed pockets of data. Silos existed a while back in the form of site by site or publisher by publisher purchase, which is why the industry has (for the most part) shifted to an audience purchase model. Even though publishers are now making it easier to access their audiences and, clients know more than ever before about their customers, they are still sitting in siloed environments and clients are buying or building audiences based on their own audience.

Enter marketers and their role in all of this as data custodians. The role of marketers and agencies has lately been questioned and ‘client direct’ has become a more common term in market. This could be due to technology being easier to access and processes made simpler to follow. I am confident, however, that in 2017 we will see marketing and ad agencies playing a much larger role in managing and aggregating their clients’ data. I see them acting as the intermediary between clients, allowing them to either use richer data and produce stronger audiences or allow for syndication of data between one another. As clients do more with their own data, they realize just how important it is to have the ability to aggregate, but will require help when trying to do this.

Imagine an agency managing an auto client, bank, super fund and food retailer, and then aggregating all data held between these clients to create enhanced audiences. A bank can target people interested in a car purchase with a loan or vice versa, an auto client is alerted to car loan applications and so on. Allowing clients to move outside their own data sets and safely and securely build richer, detailed audiences will benefit the end user and deliver stronger results. Working in such a way means agencies can provide their clients with reports, not just based on their own information but combined with all other businesses integrated within the DMP.

Outside of aggregated audiences, another benefit to the marketer model is to allow clients to nominate what data they want (and don’t want) to share or ‘Syndicate’ (a Lotame product) between one another. Previously, setting up such an agreement has never been simple, with Lotame it is seamless. Syndicating second party data between businesses allows for a more strategic way to enhance first party data with a data private market place (D-PMP).

A luxury auto brand, for example, may choose to share select audience data with an app that profiles 5-star travel resorts. Both companies are targeting the same affluent audiences, but they’re not directly competing with each other. For these brands, exchanging first-party data can help provide deeper audience insights and running the agreement in line with your nominated marketer ensures once again, an intermediary acts as the ‘data custodian’.

Is the marketer data management option a solution? Yes, for the moment. Will we see more specialists offering such a service? Yes, we already are with the likes of Data Republic. One huge advantage a marketer will have, however, over a niche data bank will be the ability to combine all other campaign elements: strategy, creative and planning allowing for a smoother journey. Life for a client is always made easier when processes are seamless and ideally housed under one roof, with one team who understand goals, and no one channel is trying to outdo or claim a higher stake of either budget or recognition.

I see how quickly things are moving around all of us, we all do. We see clients becoming smarter, enabling all of us to do more exciting and creative things, but we also hear a lot of concerns around the control of one’s first-party data. Most DMPs’ architecture should allow all clients involved to house their own data, securely under strict laws. Clients can be reassured that decisions made around the use of their data are made by them and only them. No DMP should ever hold personally identifiable information (PII), but should allow for this to be encrypted so that it still can be used, safely and securely. Not using a DMP could be compared to keeping your savings under the mattress.

I am excited where everything is heading. Just as it always does, technology is becoming much more freely available and with the model I have discussed here, I see opportunities for many smaller clients or publishers who previously found costs were restrictive. I am confident that as more companies understand the technologies and benefits provided by aggregating information, we will see a world where messaging is more relevant and useful for the end user which is really, the whole point no?

This article was written by Luke Williams, Commercial Director, ANZ for Lotame.