The brand-agency relationship used to be relatively simple. True, brands would have multiple agencies – social, digital, media-buying, for instance – but most of the spend would focus on a single area, usually television.
But as other digital channels become more important to consumers, brands are beginning to realize that stuffing too much money in one area detracts from the others or ultimately adds to the problem of fragmentation.
“Social and video are now playing a part of our traditional buys at NewFronts,” said Sean Black, managing director and group digital director for MediaCom, during a content and video panel hosted by Mindshare, Taboola and Beet.TV in New York on Tuesday.
As demand for more accountability and proven ROI at the agency level increases, brands are making more small investments over time – a contrast to the days when they’d dump a load of money into a single grand campaign. But this philosophy knocks many agencies out of their comfort zones.
“Agencies are comfortable taking the money pot and spending in one spot,” said Jordan Bitterman, chief strategy officer for WPP agency Mindshare North America. “No agency is really set up [for the change] but we feel Mindshare is. We look at our clients’ business and say, ‘Marketing is war.’ There are battles of attrition, audience fragmentation and money that’s being decentralized.”
Adam Singolda, CEO of content-discovery and distribution platform Taboola, seconded that statement. He noted the frequent consolidation in the agency world is occurring because agencies have recognized a need to diversify their expertise. With more platforms, portals and services plays vying for the brand dollar, getting in front of consumer demand is becoming mandatory.
“Agencies used to specialize in search or SEO or social or content, which is a problem,” Singolda said. “Consumers are playing Candy Crush while scrolling through their Facebook stream and checking email. The future is an agency brand that looks at everything – to become part of the behavior is to create the experiences.”
This is why Mindshare in February introduced The Loop, a way for Mindshare to show the effectiveness of media campaigns across channels. Bitterman described this effort as a way for Mindshare to become more proactive in media planning through the use of data.
Each day for one hour, Mindshare pulls client teams with different disciplines, from broadcast to social and search, into one room. These teams sift through client data from buys via tracking platforms. Mindshare develops recommendations from these insights, which it pushes to clients in the hour or day, as opposed to a planning meeting weeks or months down the line.
The Loop has changed Mindshare’s go-to-market process, Bitterman said, since once-siloed teams are now collectively monitoring clients’ competitive position.
“We as an industry have to diminish the distance in how we service current customers,” Bitterman said. This includes thinking beyond standard agency parameters. Using data that comes out of a media buy to feed back in to the creative planning process “even though we’re not a creative agency” is the way everyone needs to be thinking.