HOW AGENCIES CAN HELP BRANDS HARNESS VALUABLE DATA

By Ami Murphy Iannone, Creative Director - January 22, 2019

Brands are scrambling to harness data for their campaigns


To capture the value of video data, brands are seeking partners to help them better understand their audiences. Sometimes that means insourcing entire agency functions, obtaining technology partners, or hiring data consultants.


Research conducted by the Association of National Advertisers in the fall of 2018 found that core marketing functions, formerly executed by agencies, are being pulled in-house at unprecedented rates. 78 percent of ANA members have an in-house agency in 2018, versus 58 percent in 2013 and 42 percent in 2008. For 44 percent of respondents, their in-house agency was established within the past five years. The core functions now being executed in-house included: “strategy, creative for traditional media, creative for digital media, and media planning/buying.”

Respondents listed the following top benefits of in-house agencies

  • Cost efficiencies
  • Better knowledge of brands
  • Institutional knowledge
  • Dedicated staff
  • Speed, nimbleness
As the ANA survey outlines, the number one reason brands are insourcing agency functions is for cost efficiency. What is unclear from the research is whether the brands are also performing the agency functions better and more cost efficiently, or if they are only recognizing the cost savings of no longer employing an agency. Maarten Albarda, the founder of Flock Associates marketing consulting company, points out why brands should be scrutinizing these decisions:

“What should be taken into consideration obviously is not only the cost of in-housing vs prior cost but the impact the in-housing decision has had on brand health, brand growth, and overall business performance. We have all seen what happens when the industry decided that low cost was the sole success factor for digital media buying. We’re still collectively trying to clean up the mess that has been created as a result.”

Setting up an in-house agency is no small feat, financially or logistically, and brands have to seriously consider the upfront investment alongside the ROI. Sometimes brands fail to realize that “these decisions have far-reaching consequences across the wider enterprise that impact working methods, required internal and external support structures, capital investment, HR policies, IT investment and talent, etc.”

In addition to brands taking their agency and creative work in-house, many brands are beginning to use technology platforms and consultants to deeply understand their audiences and help them make better, data-driven business and marketing decisions. Agencies nationwide are losing out to these in-house shops and data consultants because agencies have been slow to adapt to the new data climate and brand marketers are on the hunt for data-driven marketing strategies.


Data-driven marketing is on the rise

New technologies are enabling brands to inspire or defend nearly every decision they make with data. Because of the sheer amount of information available from the digital activity of a brand’s consumers, it is becoming nearly impossible for humans alone to make sense of that data. Technology solutions are popping up left and right to help marketers make sense of their data and make smart decisions with that information and these technologies are effective.

A recent study conducted by Magna Global found that machines were more effective at optimizing ad campaign impact when humans and machines were given the same inputs. Most notably, the machine was more effective while displaying the ad fewer times, therefore more economical than the human. And the machine was significantly better at priming consumers to make a purchase — vastly outperforming the humans on purchase consideration campaigns. These sorts of efficiencies are driving many brands towards programmatic advertising solutions. Brands are taking action to harness the benefits of data-driven and artificially intelligent marketing.

But brands aren’t always proficient at implementing these new technologies. This is where agencies can step into a new facet of their long-time advisory roles and provide their clients with data-driven solutions.

The Mind the Data Gap 2019 Data-Driven Marketing & Advertising Outlook report, conducted by Adweek Branded and Dun & Bradstreet, acknowledges the advantages deep data can provide but concludes that implementing insights from artificial intelligence can be especially challenging for brands. The report highlights the many ways that brands are finding data difficult to acquire or correctly implement.

Furthermore, the report highlights the opportunity for agencies to assist brands with smarter data implementation. The report points out the ways that agencies already “ appear to be more sophisticated in their ability to manage and analyze data.”  

  • 58% of agencies are doing real-time campaign optimization, compared to only 39% of brands
  • 64% of agencies are implementing cross-device targeting, compared to only 36% of brands
  • 42% of agencies are using predictive analytics, compared to only 28% of brands

 

Agency VS Brand Usage of Data-Driven Marketing Tactics

Brands are struggling to implement sophisticated data-driven marketing practices for themselves. The two most common challenges (reported by 32% of brands each) were siloed or inaccessible customer data and integration of marketing and sales platforms. A close second was the lack of data expertise, with 30% of brands reporting this as a major challenge. Brands are sending out the bat signal for help from trusted partners to guide them into the future of data-driven marketing.

Agencies are uniquely positioned to succeed in this new data climate. As long as they are willing to adapt. In order for agencies to become the data solution for their clients, they need to solve these problems for brands. Download our free ebook, "Turning your agency into a data leader" to learn how!

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