Agencies & Advertising Tech: Beyond The Client/Vendor Relationship

Handshake shutterstockThere has been a lot of commentary lately about the relationship between the Agency and Advertising Technology  – a liaison just as fraught with potential issues as the familiar one between Agency and Publisher.

Thankfully, there’s a lot to learn from the classic buyer/seller struggles of Agency and Publisher. Yes, there are issues — but there are also opportunities.

There are several core truths about digital advertising today:

  • Predictive programmatic media has changed the face and guts of marketing
  • All agencies must embrace ad technology
  • Ad technology should be additive to agencies servicing their clients
  • People and machines must continue to work together in the throes of constant change

People who talk about these issues in agencyland tend to focus on issues such as choosing partners you can trust, respecting the ownership of the client relationship and hiring/training to deal with emerging technology requirements and expectations.

Connecting At A Strategic Level

But, given the opportunities afforded by the new technology reality inside agencies, it’s just as important to consider how you (the agency) and your ad tech partner can connect at a strategic level. Strategic connection is the ultimate people issue here. When you have that –  when your strategic goals are aligned — you are in a better position to discuss how you can effectively collaborate.

As an agency principal, you may have supply side partners that include publishers, networks and exchanges; DMPs, DSPs and audience targeting services companies; mobile or video tech providers; SEOs; social media campaign management; and any number of data analytics providers.

Understanding The Role of Technology

What’s obviously most essential is that you as an agency have a clear vision of the role that technology plays in your service offering and that you engage partners to suit that vision. And then, you must make sure that your core client-facing or services teams all can hold their own reasonably when interacting, collaborating, delivering with these partners. With, being the operative word.

When partners are connected strategically to service clients essentially jointly (which is how we should look at it), we understand the role of technology. We understand how human guidance and handling of data and learning still very much have a role in the equation that is fueled by technology.

We therefore don’t lose sight of the fact that we must work together at the front-end of any given initiative to chart the course collaboratively, attending across our functions to use the system and its data output to target, test, optimize and iterate.

Going For The Strategic Pinky Swear

It’s essential that both the agency and the technology partner understand a brand’s or client’s objectives and what they’d like to learn — and they must also join forces to show them more of what’s possible. What else can we learn? Which new, expanded audiences might be productive for us? What else can we try creatively? How can we push it further on ROI?

As a supplier, you may encounter an agency or a buyer who, even in light of the power of technology, looks toward the bare minimum of accomplishment: nailing impression volume or reach, achieving a target click-through rate, confirming or validating their audience target. So, by connecting with your agency partner strategically on the current objectives and the role of technology, you are very much in a position to help transport the work to a smarter place, a place where more can be learned and achieved.

So, forget worrying about who owns the client relationship — or the day-to-day struggles on execution. Take the time to align on the role of technology in what you are doing together; the client objectives set; and how you might evolve all client engagements to a higher state of learning and achievement — and you’ve got a strategic pinky swear that should set the stage. It is with that kind of simpatico that the right agency/ad tech partnerships come to light, and the day-to-day sorts itself out.

(Stock image via Used under license.)

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Display Advertising | Display Advertising | Display Advertising Column


About The Author: serves numerous media and data technology clients for WIT Strategy as a Senior Associate in corporate affairs and media relations, as her primary engagement. She also runs collaborative pursuits through her company, Influence Collective, LLC. -- advising and supporting media and tech entrepreneurs in cooperation with other trusted partners and firm principals.

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  • Pat Grady

    “People and machines must continue to work together in the throes of constant change”
    What if the people and/or machines are prone to intentional mis-attribution to the detriment of the client?
    (Nope, I’m not referring to anyone, I honestly mean in the general sense. Sometimes, it seems, technology’s purpose is to baffle and obfuscate, that’s all I’m saying. Yes, every industry over sells, I mean worse… the borderline criminal, if laws kept up.)


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