In spite of the automation that technology continues to bring to media, the services layer remains as valuable as ever - maybe more so - as talented people put the technology over the proverbial finish line. For some ad tech companies with complex offerings, a robust service layer has been the natural outcome of selling its core product. What could this mean for agencies down the road?
AdExchanger reached out to several executives from the agency side of the ecosystem and asked the following question:
"Given the increasing complexity of ad technology needed to service clients - particularly in digital media buying -, and ad tech companies need to build a service layer to activate its tech, where does the agency of the future draw the line for its own services? Does the agency become a 'sourcing master', if you will?"
"Sourcing masters" references the ability to know which technologies are best and how much to prescribe for each client especially as it relates to driving on a client's "big idea."
"I think it's absolutely the case as there are a number of complications and where the contract fits is buried. Some clients will have direct contracts with broader platform technology providers and will want us to work with their providers accordingly.
If the client has gone through a process of selecting a preferred partner, it's essential that we can operate with that provider. Sometimes, as part of the credentials process of either winning a new assignment or simply extending the remit from one traditional area of responsibility that agencies have - let's say immediate planning and buying - into some of the other service areas across owned infrastructure and data management infrastructures, to prove that we are the right partner to help in that task.
Ultimately, we need to show that we have an expertise with the provider the client might already have selected. Sometimes, the onus is on the agency to prove that they know how to operate with the provider that the client has already selected.
Clearly, there will be times where the client wants the agency's recommendation. In that instance, if we the agency have a relationship with the provider that is deeply embedded - which means that we have either a unique level of expertise or even potentially some proprietary feature sets that mean that we can work in an enhanced fashion - we'll obviously make the case for companies that we are comfortable working closely with.
But, again, sometimes even if we're working closely with the provider, the client may want the contract to sit with them or they may be uncomfortable if it sits with the agency. They may feel that there is an agency revenue that they're not aware of in association with that partner.
It's essential that the agency masters the extended infrastructure. And, it's impossible, and I think it's not good for the credibility of the agency, to insist that that a preferred provider is the one that the client works with."
- Anthony Rhind, co-CEO, Havas Digital
- John Montgomery, COO, GroupM North America (WPP)
- Scott Hagedorn, CEO, Annalect (Omnicom)
By John Ebbert