With more sophisticated expectations from marketers, how does an agency best adapt? Some agencies have developed their own technology solutions. The Trade Desk has seen many of our clients build their own proprietary technology on top of TTD’s own tech stack (through an API), creating both efficiencies in buying media at scale, as well as effectiveness in campaign performance.
But agencies are still service-based businesses, and programmatic buying will always be stewarded by humans, not exclusively by machines. So how does an agency team drive value now? I’d propose three areas: first, realistic goal-setting; second, finding new ways to drive performance; and third, creating better, more meaningful methods of measurement.
One of the most critical things an agency can do is help advertisers set realistic goals. Because they are buying across many different verticals, agencies have access to pricing and performance data that they can use to ensure campaigns are performing at maximum efficiency. Why set an unrealistic or arbitrary goal, when we have access to the tools that determine what drives real performance? If your goal is to drive incremental hotel room bookings from rewards-card members, for example, let’s set ROI expectations based on historical trends instead of shooting in the dark.
Programmatic buying used to cater heavily to direct-response KPIs, but that’s changed tremendously. More Fortune 500 advertisers are realizing that data driven buying can help them target potential customers on all of their devices, and moreover, control for variables like frequency across desktop, mobile, TV and more. Data-driven, omnichannel buying is helping marketers reach an audience that has become more fragmented. Marketers are spending in many media channels, and customers are consuming media in more fractured ways. How do you hold your budget accountable for driving consumers down the purchase funnel across all of the various media channels you’re buying in? Marketers need agencies with tech prowess, who can plan and optimize omnichannel buys, and who can attribute success across devices.
Finally, technology has offered our industry more meaningful methods of measurement. In other words, Wanamaker’s famous phrase “half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half”should be irrelevant now. Beyond the simple CPA goal, we can now measure what happens within mobile app environments, which is important since roughly half of all impressions available programmatically by the end of this year will be mobile impressions. Eventually we’ll be able to do deeper attribution for TV spend, and we’ll be better able to connect offline conversions to online media spend.
But for the way the industry is changing, more than ever marketers need to leverage opportunities to optimize. They need the right agency partners to steward this; they need agencies who act as technology consultants, who build their offering on data-driven, omnichannel technology partners. It’s this type of service offering and partnership that can help push the entire ecosystem to better, more sustainable, more effective advertising altogether.