In the ad world, quicker doesn’t necessarily mean better. Leaders in the industry are focused on quality: better decisions, new ways of thinking, exceeding expectations, being the best and producing great work – things that can’t be automated.
So, if you’re a decision maker at an ad agency, then integrated marketing technology probably isn’t the most exciting thing in the world. After all, isn’t it just software that automates a large chunk of what agencies do?
For large corporations, the technology is pitched as a way to improve workflow, ensure quicker sign-off, facilitate better collaboration, increase shared learnings, hone asset management, and achieve other logistical efficiencies.
Some top agencies do invest in integrated martech, but not for those reasons. They do so because it allows them to do more of the right things, rather than just doing things in the right way.
If you’re committed to doing great work, staying ahead of the competition, and impressing your clients, martech can be a godsend. It removes the legwork and the guesswork.
Targeting is a perfect example. In a typical agency setup, the planning team provides the activation team with a detailed targeting strategy – including psychographics and detailed behaviors – based on their own preferred research methods.
The activation team takes this information and determines what’s available within the targeting settings of the ad platform, such as demographics, location, or interests. It’s a time-consuming task, but the real problem is that much of the detail in the targeting strategy is lost.
This approach also relies on the skill of the ad ops person to translate the strategy into actual targeting segments. The two teams may also have to go back and forth to reach an agreement, wasting more time and effort and adding stress to what is likely a time-critical launch schedule.
If the planning and activation teams are using the same integrated martech platform, however, planners can build the targeting segments based on real audience data and behavior. And, since the segments are built in the platform where the campaign will be deployed, there is no interpretation or translation necessary.
Once approved, the detailed audience segments are seamlessly passed to the activation team so that they can finalize the campaign setup. The time saved allows the activation team to focus more on campaign optimization – a crucial part of any successful campaign that is often overlooked or rushed, which ultimately harms performance.
On paper, a system that automates the planning team’s approval process before sending the necessary information to the activation team doesn’t seem revolutionary. That said, there are distinct advantages in allowing your planners to have a greater influence on campaign targeting, and your activation team to spend more time building better campaigns.
Of course, targeting is just one example of a situation where work that’s based on data is effectively de-digitized before being passed on via email. There are many similar situations that look like efficiency problems, but are actually roadblocks to effectiveness.
It’s also important for agencies to consider what an integrated martech platform will offer in the near future. Currently, it isn’t possible for advertisers to plan budget allocation when targeting an audience across multiple channels – we don’t really know whether a campaign that’s slated to run on Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat will be exposed to the same people using different platforms or entirely new users.
For us, this is the Holy Grail of digital advertising as it allows us to see the bigger picture. We aren’t quite there yet, but we’re on the way.
Martech boils down to what we call a ‘single data truth.’ It connects teams to each other, allowing data and intelligence to flow without loss, and it means that decisions can be made and acted upon with each individual working with the exact same data. This can only lead to more effective campaigns and higher quality output for the entire agency.
We know that major brands are willing to invest in martech technology and that they calculate the value it brings based on efficiency and how it reduces their full time employee requirements from their roster of agencies.
Agencies can embrace this transition by reducing the number of junior staffers on an account and replacing them with strategists. What CMO isn’t going to be happy when you tell them you’re taking five bodies off their account and replacing them with two experienced strategists because you’ve seen a 25% uplift for other clients who’ve done the same?
So please don’t think about martech as a time saver, think about it as something that allows your agency to become more effective by making intelligent and informed decisions.
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