Kresten Bergsøe
Kresten Bergsøe 24 February 2017

Are Media Agencies the Future Stewards of the Data Driven Marketing Journey?

Most online advertising today delivers a mediocre customer experience. However media companies are perfectly positioned to deliver the full customer experience from ad impression, landing page, site experience and retargeting.

Most online advertising today deliver a mediocre customer experience. The alignment of ad messaging and site experience is missing for the vast majority of advertisers outside of the target landing page. Advertisers websites have no recollection of prior interactions or what brought the visitor to the site in the first place - so visitors is often delivered a very generic site experience that has no link to the original intent or the goal of the ad. Most retargeting still seems like a bolted on afterthought - which in many cases can be directly invasive and hamper the customer experience further.

This customer experience translates into substandard conversion rates and lower ROI on the online advertising spend.

Good news is that this is a huge business opportunity.

Media agencies have traditionally focused on optimizing the media planning, spend and not on the customer experience triggered by the advertising. Creative agencies have focused more on the campaign messaging, but not much on what happens after arrival on the landing page. 

Nobody seems to own of the full customer experience.

Personalization is the foundation of better customer experience. And personalization has consistently ranked in top 3 of client priorities for marketing efforts every year since 2014 (Adobe ‘Digital Roadblock 2014).

But the creative agencies at large never picked up the personalization discipline or got serious about data driven marketing - leaving clients to struggle with personalization on their own. This explains (in part) the gap between clients expressed priorities and the lack of momentum and integration with the rest of the marketing mix - and it explains the disconnected customer experiences that we experience today.

The agencies who lost the ball

Creative agency capabilities are highly fragmented and reflect the wide range of services and use cases they solve for clients. They lost the client's media budgets decades ago and their involvement with clients customer journeys are for most limited to parts of the journey as their deliveries have been heavily commoditized. 

However, media companies are perfectly positioned to deliver the full customer experience from ad impression, landing page, site experience and retargeting. Media agencies have a strong heritage from optimizing the client's media spend and that role seems like the ideal position to help clients shortcut the journey toward more data driven marketing. At the same time, it is an opportunity for the media agencies to increase earnings on deliveries with a higher profitability than traditional media services.

Media agencies are uniquely positioned to help clients capitalize on customer data. They can facilitate the capture of 1. party data on clients own channels as they already assist in capturing analytics data. 1. party data is the key to a personalized onsite experience and to enable better and deeper retargeting efforts as compared to what is practised today.

Furthermore, media agencies can enrich clients 1. party data with intent and segment information collected from the ad networks - adding services that persist between campaigns and media spend. This will enable better audience building when matching client visitors with network audience profiles and it will generate a new revenue stream for media agencies.

The persona and sales stage based audience segmentation, delivered by media agencies is likely to become the driver for most clients content creation process. While the actual content creation is likely not going to be a core delivery from the media agency - the personalization of the content certainly could be - simply because the creative agencies and clients cannot do it. Think question based selling, personalized ebooks, whitepapers and downloads that are rendered to each visitor based on individual profile information and followed up with intelligent personalized retargeting ads.

The missing pieces

The media agencies have built richer organizational capabilities to help clients streamline the campaign implementation from planning, media spend to creative implementation and reporting - and they now own most of the business conversation with the clients that the creative agencies owned decades ago. Many media agencies have almost all the capabilities inhouse to deliver the full journey - however a few critical pieces are missing:

First and most importantly are people capable of consulting clients on aligning business objectives with customer journeys. Then a tech team to deliver implementation across the client's own channels. Designing the onsite customer experience and implementing personalization tactics tied into marketing automation is a key capability that very few clients or creative agencies possess. Media agencies are perfectly positioned to consolidate and scale this capability. Building the creative teams and arming them with a capable tech support will surface a delivery with a huge percentage of conceptual reuse and creative opportunities. It will also align the media agency tighter with the clients business objectives on a both strategic and tactical level and deepen the strategic conversation.

Second requirement is tech platforms to capture visitor profile data and deliver personalized customer experiences on clients own channels. Platforms which are integrated into the existing ad delivery infrastructure, omnichannel and independent on clients existing marketing technology stack. The clients are now adopting a wide range of marketing technologies - and media agencies cannot support them all. To build deep experience, know how and gain productivity - media agencies have to choose one or build their own platform that can be applied across clients sites without impacting the client's site management or content creation flows.

The client website experience is still the weakest link in the conversion funnel - but the media agencies have the client domain insights, position and capabilities to help clients build much better customer experiences for their inbound traffic. Clients struggle with the transition toward more data driven marketing. Many are stuck in the technical complexities, organizational requirements and technology stacks required to move forward. 

Media agencies have the opportunity to shortcut this stalemate and catalyze their clients journey by serving them using tech agnostic cloud services and by providing business development and creative teams with the experience in journey design and personalization.

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