“Data-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.
Today’s column is written by Rob Beeler, founder of Beeler.Tech.
When we talk about streamlining the digital advertising industry to make it more efficient and effective, we need to establish that it’s not so much an industry as it is an ecosystem.
And this ecosystem involves different players who are all dependent on each other: brands, agencies, niche third-party solutions providers and publishers.
With that in mind, this is the first in a series exploring the different ways we can improve this ecosystem.
We begin our story with you, the brands.
“It’s complicated” for brands and agencies
I was talking to a friend of mine recently who is relatively new to marketing at a large financial services company that works with a digital advertising agency.
“We have these ideas of what we want to do to meet our marketing goals,” he told me. “So, we get on with our agency and tell them what we want them to do. Then our agency takes time to come back and say, ‘OK, here’s what we can do.’ Then there’s another wait until they say, ‘OK, let’s execute on that.’ It always takes so much time – an idea that we have in Q1 may not even become a reality until Q3.”
I’m willing to bet if you’re working at a brand that’s partnered with an agency, this story resonates with you.
The moment you entrust some or all of your digital advertising strategy to an agency is the moment you make yourself vulnerable to the pains of “red tape.” Simple tasks take too long, and you’re beholden to a third party’s business priorities in order to execute on your business objectives.
That’s probably why a 2021 Gartner report found that 29% of the marketing work that agencies once carried out has moved in house, with little expectation that the trend will reverse itself in a meaningful way.
However, having everything under your roof only sounds great in theory. This path means you have to bring all of the once-invisible grunt work and administration in house, too.
You will also likely need to invest heavily in the talent and tools you lack. You know – the gaps that brought you to an agency’s doorstep in the first place.
A fully in-house approach doesn’t work for everyone. If you’re feeling more pain than gain in your digital advertising agency relationship, and you believe your only options are to bring everything in house or simply stick it out, you’re limiting yourself. A smarter approach would be to simply reimagine the blend of what you keep in house and what you outsource … and who you turn to.
A better balancing act
Simply shifting some responsibilities between you and your agency can make a world of difference. If reporting and strategy is a weak point, but your execution capabilities are top-notch, an agency might be the best fit to fill that reporting and strategy gap. They don’t also need to handle execution.
Overall, I would challenge you to think bigger and more strategically about how you address resource shortfalls. When you have gaps in expertise or bandwidth in house, you don’t need to always turn to a one-stop-shop agency to meet those needs.
As the digital advertising industry has evolved and diversified, solutions providers have done the same. For instance, media buying might be an essential part of your strategy, but you don’t have the in-house capabilities to execute on it. Gone are the days of only relying on multifunctional agencies. You can now look to outsourced partners whose only focus is ad delivery and/or support. And that’s just one example of how you now have a wealth of specialized solutions providers at your disposal.
The digital ad dream: agility, speed, efficiency
Some of you may feel like your agency is preventing you from achieving it. They’re the ones standing in the way of your own “You can still dunk in the dark” Oreo tweet heard ‘round the world.
Just because you can easily point to the agency as the bad guy doesn’t mean you should. And it doesn’t mean that you’re right, either. Yes, shore up your inefficiencies and rethink how you work with agencies, as well as other outside solutions providers. But do so strategically. That’s how you’ll strike true digital advertising gold.