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Media Agencies Can and Will Continue to Evolve

By Stuart Smith

Times are changing for media agencies. With an unprecedented volume of data available, an increasing number of paths to the consumer, and a growing number of technology companies jockeying to be their chosen partner — or, in some instances, their clients’ chosen partner — the advertising ecosystem has never been so complex. Programmatic technologies are making media buying, or the process of executing a media booking, a relatively straightforward administrative task, while planning and campaign optimisation are becoming increasingly nuanced. Agencies have had to evolve, and the more innovative ones have already found new ways to add value to their offering.

Navigating an Increasingly Complex Landscape

One of the ways in which agencies add value is by helping clients make sense of the media ecosystem, which now comes bundled with data management, an ever-growing list of industry jargon, and a gaggle of technology providers all promising the earth. Agencies have grown up around these system — and kicked the tyres of most of them — and are often in a better position to help advertisers work out what will and won’t deliver for their brand.

But the agency relationship with the ad technology world doesn’t have to be an adversarial one either. Once you have trusted partners in place, collaboration is key to getting the best out of that relationship. By mixing and matching best in class technologies, agencies can then deliver truly integrated marketing and advertising.

Running integrated campaigns also allows agencies to apply learnings from the digital world elsewhere. For example, many agencies are combining the granularity of digital media with the branding power of TV i.e. by using data and insights to deliver campaigns that focus more on the ‘who’ and ‘why’ than the ‘where’ and ‘how’. Many agencies are also overlaying traditional media methods with elements more typical of a digital media campaign such as testing and optimisation. We’re starting to see a shift where campaigns are created in real time to deliver the best performance for their clients, measuring interaction of advertising across media channels – but using traditional TV-style metrics rather than impressions and click through rates – and adjusting campaigns accordingly.

Data is another area where agencies can add value, whether it’s in a analytical, a management or a consultative capacity. While many clients do collect data, the reality is that many don’t have the capacity to do anything meaningful with it. A number of agencies have stepped in to fill this breach by offering effective data analysis to provide insights that drive business decisions and marketing strategy.

Time for a Rebrand

It seems like now would be a good time for the term ‘media agency’ to be binned. It’s no longer fit for purpose as the role of these organisations has already moved on from the days of buying TV and print media; they now orchestrate campaigns and allocate resources across traditional media, display, social, and mobile channels, all of which are tightly interrelated. With this in mind the term ‘media agency’ no longer captures the full diversity of their offering, and other terms such as ‘Marketing Investment Managers (MIMs)’ are quite rightly being explored.

However, for media agencies to continue to evolve and expand, they’re going to have to attract proficient new talent experienced in delivering cross-channel, consumer-centric campaigns. Agencies now find that they need mobile experts, social media leads, video specialists, data analysts, and software developers alongside the more traditional copywriters and media buyers. This is already having an impact on agencies, but many will need to go even further if they’re to keep pace with industry change. For example, distinct departments such as digital teams and social teams should not operate in silos and agencies should be making full use of centralised marketing teams that can support a holistic strategy.

Media agencies can and will evolve to play an important role for the advertiser of the future, as long as they continue to reinvent the way in which they work. In an increasingly complex digital world, using data to become consumer focused, restructuring to reflect today’s ecosystem, and collaborating with other providers will enable agencies to deliver integrated, first-rate solutions that will add value to their clients’ businesses and drive sales. The media agency has evolved – but it’s not done evolving yet.

Via Video Ad News


Winning gold with your video ad – it’s all in the delivery

by Sarah Lawson Johnston, managing director, Europe at Mediaocean

Advertisers can develop and create inspiring video adverts, but if the timing and delivery of a campaign comes second in the pecking order, they will find the impact of all this effort and creativity is completely lost when the ad goes to air. So how can advertisers enhance the effectiveness of their video ad campaign?

It sounds simple, but switching the approach, preparation and management of a campaign can make all the difference.

Online is big business

The video advertising industry is booming. In the UK alone, online video ad spend increased by more than 60% in 2013 – £325 million compared to just £4 million for the first half of 2008 – which represents a staggering increase in investment.

This increased investment runs parallel with the growing numbers of consumers switching to online platforms to view TV content. In response to this trend, a large proportion of broadcasting companies, websites and social media networks have invested extra time and resources into streaming content. For example, during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the BBC mainly used the ‘red button’ to stream extra content, with some live streaming of events made available to UK viewers, and catch up videos available on the iPlayer. Fast-forward to Sochi 2014 and the broadcaster provided 650 hours of live streaming across tablet, PC and mobile, three times as much coverage as the broadcaster actually showed on terrestrial television. This was the first time the BBC had ever offered live coverage throughout the entire Winter Olympic Games.

The significant advance in adoption of this form of media gives a strong indication of the direction in which TV is headed. However,in spite of hundreds of thousands of pounds being invested in the best and most inspired online video ad campaigns, if an ad is not shown in the right place at the right time, then – just as with traditional forms of TV advertising – it is a wasted placement.

Automated delivers the edge

The rise of online video ads presents a real benefit to advertisers. It allows them to be more specific about their placements, whereas traditional TV advertising means buying broader audiences. Purchasing online video ads – as well as ads on devices such as connected TV – via a programmatic approach allows them to be more tailored to the specific consumers they are reaching.

There is currently a great deal of comparison between online video and TV, yet for advertisers they are distinctly different because of the way they can buy, optimise and measure both mediums. However, when online video advertising is delivered correctly, the real visible difference is that advertisers are rewarded with the precision of online display – reaching influential consumers at the right place and the right time – coupled with the traditional branding impact of TV.

But just how do advertisers ensure they deliver the best possible ad?

No room for error

Today, teams still rely on sharing critical information using spreadsheets, word documents, online portals and emails, but with each manual process comes increasing opportunity for error as this approach relies on human accuracy.

An automated advertising process relies heavily on integrating the information, systems and workflows utilised by all participants within the lifecycle of getting the ad to air, and running this process through one central connected system. Various processes within this automated cycle can include creative and traffic departments, dub houses, media outlets, publishers, talent, and accounting teams, so that they can all see and operate with the same information for the duration of the campaign, right through to consumer engagement. It is easy to see how this connected approach can be much smoother, more transparent and less prone to risk when an automated approach is utilised.

The power of programmatic

Advertisers who deploy automated systems to manage and deliver their campaigns can also maximise the advantages of using programmatic buying, enabling advertisers to be responsive and act quickly if, for example, a popular YouTube video or website goes viral overnight. When taking advantage of marketing automation campaigns can be managed instantly, allowing planners to reassess their inventory more frequently. Yearly advertising plans become bi-annual, and bi-annual plans can become a quarterly review, allowing a faster response time to the media channels growing in popularity and more fluidity when it comes to booking and managing video ad campaigns.

Automating data and centralising processes within the advertising mix have cost and timesaving implications – requiring less manual input and a smaller margin for costly errors – and can also help maintain the momentum of your campaign. However, it is important to note that although automation can streamline the online video advertising process, exceptional strategy and quantitative input is what will always give advertisers the edge to win gold.

Via M&M Global


It’s time to stem the loss of STEM graduates

By John Bauschard, Mediaocean

“The US has the best research universities in the world, which is why we attract the best students from around the world. Forcing them to leave, rather than allowing them to stay and add their skills and knowledge to our economy, is one of the most short-sighted policies we have.” —John Hennessy, President, Stanford University

America’s top universities are busy graduating a new crop of highly-skilled scientists, engineers and mathematicians — more than half of them foreign-born — but many of them will not remain in the US after graduation. The fact is, many of our foreign-born students will accept jobs elsewhere because current immigration policy makes it difficult for them to stay and work.

Why would we let some of the best and brightest graduates of our top universities leave? The rational, as it is applied across all spectrums of immigration policy by a myriad of political pundits, appears simple: “Immigrants take jobs from Americans.” It’s a supply and demand argument that claims jobs filled by these highly skilled graduates could have been filled by unemployed Americans.

However, the reality contradicts these claims. Foreign-born STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) graduates are actually proven job creators. Arguably, they are America’s single strongest economic driver in the modern era. A report by the Technology CEO Council stated that entrepreneurial “start-ups are disproportionately founded and supported” by foreign-born individuals. According to a report by The New American Economy, 40 percent of the largest US companies were founded by immigrants or first-generation immigrants, including many of the hottest tech startups. A recent example, Whatsapp, which sold to Facebook for $19 billion, was founded by a Ukrainian immigrant. My own company, Mediaocean, was founded by an immigrant more than 40 years ago.

Furthermore, hiring these foreign STEM graduates is anything but cheap. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than 2.5 computer science openings for every graduate. In fact, the top five largest technology companies in the US have over 10,000 combined unfilled computer science openings. These statistics inspired CEOs from many of our largest tech companies and trade associations to write an open letter to President Obama and Congress asking for a reformed immigration policy. Companies need to subsidize hired workers through a costly and complex immigration process stuck in a bygone era of bureaucratic paperwork with little automation.

As global competition for STEM talent increases, other countries are attempting to capitalize on our dysfunction. One need look no further than the billboards Canada has placed along our technology corridors for evidence of this. Saudi Arabia and other countries are building national laboratory systems similar to our own with an emphasis on recruiting US-trained scientists.

So, how do we solve this problem? It begins with the H1-B visa. H1-B is the designation for short–term, skilled workers visa in the US. Applicants must have at least a bachelor’s degree under a broad list of majors, including some liberal arts, business and STEM majors. The amount of H1-B visas is capped at 65,000 per year for bachelor-degreed applicants with another 20,000 reserved for master’s degrees. This cap was put in place 10 years ago and has not grown to meet the demand, which is estimated at anywhere from two to three times this amount, according to the report by The New American Economy. The US should double the amounts of H1-B visas given every year while increasing the fees substantially, from the $325 an applicant pays today to $1,500 or more. The difference in fees should be used to help fund scholarships for US-born students to pursue STEM degrees.

Even once an employee gets an H1-B visa, there can still be issues. If an H1-B visa holder loses their job today, they need to leave the country if they are unable to immediately find a new sponsor. There is no grace period whatsoever. It again appears short-sighted to lose a highly-skilled worker due to temporary employment status. Work permits should be granted to any foreign students that graduate with a degree from an accredited four-year US university in a STEM field. After working for four years in a STEM field, they should be allowed to self-petition for permanent residency (as opposed to employer-sponsored). This way we keep the brightest people here, but they are free to change jobs or move to new locations as they desire.

Finally, we should create a special visa designation for foreign technology entrepreneurs who wish to relocate their business to the US. This designation should be limited in scope and require the business to have enough capital resources to be a net job creator. As President Obama said last year, “Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity, until bright young students are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.” Now is the time to get the politicians to act on this common sense issue.

Via Gigaom


iMedia Connection: Ask Intelligent Questions Of Data to Drive More Effective Advertising

In this interview with iMedia Connection, Stuart Smith talks about using data to drive more effective advertising.

How are brands and agencies making the transition to a model where data takes centre stage?

Data is becoming increasingly central to the delivery of effective marketing. The priority for any brand should be to ensure the business questions are right and then evaluate whether data will help answer those questions. The data isn’t the starting point – only with the right questions can data be molded into valuable insight.

A key priority is to connect data sets and data in isolation to create a strong proposition.Media metrics are a part of the process, but have to be joined robustly to another source, for example, sales data.

Once an evaluation can be undertaken to find out how, one affects the other, then marketers can unlock the ‘gold’.The most significant challenges are often around permission. Many marketers would love to have greater access to their organisation’s customer data for marketing purposes, but sensitivities around personal data are more heightened than ever before. Consumers understand the value of their own data and want to know that this value exchange is a good and relevant one before information is passed to the marketer.

Another challenge is in the area of talent. It’s tough for agencies to grow a data team organically at scale, and agencies can attempt to enhance their data credentials through acquisition or through partnering with the right data companies in the marketplace.For Mediaocean business, we aim to make our platform an open one that can handle the inputs and outputs that result from using an array of data sources.

How is the relationship between brands, agencies and technology providers changing in the quest to deliver targeted and integrated advertising solutions?

Collaboration is key for effective digital marketing. An advertiser would prefer to produce a single brief, so it’s imperative that media and creative agencies, content providers, ad-tech companies and brands all work closely together. The technology available to target consumers is constantly evolving and, from an industry perspective, we need to ensure that the technology we use to plan, manage and measure advertising continues to evolve, we can only do this through collaboration.

The immediate challenge for Mediaocean and our agency partners is to centralise the connection between offline and online media by enabling an open, central platform to connect to the various ad tech, data and supply side companies. This improves the flow of communication and reduces manual workflows in disconnected systems.

Where is the sweet spot in terms of integrating traditional and digital media?

The sweet spot exists wherever the consumer is. Any campaign should start with a detailed understanding of behaviours – not just audience behaviours, but customer and prospect behaviours. What media do your most valuable customers use and when?

What is their path to purchase? How many times do they need to see an ad on TV before going online to find out more or heading to a bricks and mortar store?

Our job at Mediaocean is not to assume to know the answers to these questions, but to enable our agency clients to execute across channels seamlessly so that their clients can reach their customers wherever they are present.

What technologies are you most excited by in terms of helping clients to address the attribution issue?

There are few things more complicated than multi-channel attribution modelling and for marketers to better understand the best performing channels from which they gain their return on investment. I see the challenges falling into three areas.

Firstly, attributing the offline effect of online marketing or advertising is still difficult. So, in other words, how do I know whether a customer who came into my store, called my sales team or simply changed the way they feel about my brand, was inspired to do so by my digital marketing activity?

Secondly, accurately attributing the impact of marketing activity across different devices is also very challenging.

Thirdly, understanding the contribution of each digital channel can be tough, so if I combined social, video, display and organic search components to my digital marketing, how much value do I attribute to each in the run up to that last click?

Technology companies are making great strides in automating improved attribution and analytical capability, but what really excites us at Mediaocean is the ability to combine this information together under one platform.

We are currently in the process of exploring a number of technology, data and system integrations with the intent of allowing agencies and their clients to more easily and effectively access cross channel marketing attribution metrics, which will provide an important context at points where decisions are made.

How do you expect to see media and consumer change shaping the future structure of agencies and media planning workflows?

If we think about the consumer, most people don’t use the word “digital” in relation to their media consumption. Nonetheless, more and more media is being consumed through connected devices and services, and so convergence is a key trend.
In terms of TV and radio, linear viewing is increasingly being supplemented by live streaming, catch-up, on demand, mobile or second screen viewing delivered via internet enabled services. Commuters in London now consume more news on tablets than through printed newspapers and a large proportion of the outdoor ads they are exposed to are supported by what we loosely describe as digital technologies.

Then, of course, social media platforms are jockeying to become the companion of choice to TV and other media, which is another form of convergence. Equally, consumers don’t think of their browsing, search and online purchase activity as “digital”, but these behaviours are crucial for marketers to understand.

It is therefore becoming increasingly important for marketers to effectively address the right audience with integrated campaigns to deliver strong creative and relevant messages to the consumer across channels to influence purchasing decisions.

Via imediaconnection


Ad Age: Delivering a World Cup Sponsorship in Today's Media Landscape

By Maria Pousa

I was born and raised in Argentina – fútbol country. And as such, the World Cup is something you can't avoid. We would (and we still) wait patiently for the largest sporting event in the world to kick off every four years. You have likely heard the stats, but to give you some context – in 2010, at least 3.2 billion people watched the World Cup around the world. That's roughly 46 percent of the global population! There are very few media events of this magnitude left, where people still gather around the TV – and even the radio in some rural areas – to watch their country's greatest players and athletes battle it out on the field on behalf of their countrymen.

Outside of the competition itself, two of the biggest components that make it possible, media and advertising, have changed profoundly since I watched my first World Cup in 1982. While still requiring major coordination, marketers only had a few options back then: TV, print, out-of-home, and radio. Today any brand – official sponsor or not – has the ability to join the bandwagon across a multitude of media options. And even though the teams haven't walked on the field yet, some of the world's biggest brands have already been battling it out on digital screens.

So I cannot help but wonder how global brands like Coke, Adidas, McDonald's and any of the official sponsors planning a campaign of such magnitude approach this event. How can a brand effectively produce a campaign where its products might actually traverse ALL of the 204 countries where the World Cup will be broadcasted, across all media channels, and audiences?

To triumph at such scale certainly requires intense coordination and intelligence by brands and agencies – everything from managing multinational operations to turning local data into global action. The beginning is certainly all about logistics and balancing global goals with local markets.

But beyond the usual suspects – dialect, cultural sensitivities, local laws and regulations – today's brands must focus on understanding which touchpoints drive engagement for each market. Which channel – TV, mobile, radio, social, etc. – or combination of channels holds weight in each country? And most critically, since we can no longer separate the message from the technology it is delivered on, which devices are used in local markets? Are consumers in South Africa on feature phones or smartphones? Will Italians use a second screen while they watch a match?

Then there is the question of which content is relevant for which region. Most of my fellow Argentinians would have a strong, positive reaction to a campaign featuring Diego Maradona. Most Americans – not anywhere near as heavily invested in football/soccer – might even be bored, asking their buddies, "Who is this guy?" (Hear the collective gasp of Argentinians everywhere.) In other words, in one region the content could easily go viral, but in another it would likely fall flat. The amount of money you spent on both regions could be equal, but guess where you got more out of your media dollars?

Then there is the sharing of that content, which is a phenomenon all marketers are looking to crack the code for all around the world. There are hundreds of tools that consumers use to absorb their content from that device. Since content is the key to campaigns in today's media landscape (we'll get into that shortly), knowing how and where to deliver that campaign before you start is critical. Do Koreans share through Facebook, or do they prefer Cyworld?

Although the Super Bowl has been able to evolve each year with new mediums and content sharing tools, this year's World Cup will be a new playing field for advertisers by way of touchpoints – many of them didn't even exist at the last games in 2010! Even FIFA will have an official hashtag for the first time. Will any brand manage to score another Super Bowl Oreo moment?

What World Cup advertisers should have learned from modern "campaigns" like Oreo's is that content is still king. But if that isn't enough proof for you, just take a look at the views and shares for this campaign, or this one, and you can see the power of reaching peoples' hearts. These campaigns are proof that consumers – all of us – don't hate advertising, we simply just don't like bad creative. In the era of big data and calculated decisions, compelling creative can propel your campaign to the world stage for maximum exposure. And the payoffs seem to be well worth it: a beautiful campaign could transform a brand into a worldwide powerhouse.

All in all, Brazil 2014 will be a completely new experience for fans around the world given the media tools at our fingertips today. On the same token, it is also a whole new game for marketers and established brands, who may even see their efforts get trumped by newcomers. So who will take gold home? We will find out on July 13. I know I'll be watching.

Via Adage