How Agency Media Storm Meets The Integration Challenge

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CharlieFMedia Storm, the media planning and buying arm of agency network Water Cooler Group, is breaking down siloes to mirror consumer – and client – media requirements.

Media Storm’s sister companies Hip Genius (social media) and Maude (creative/strategy) share the same real estate and come in on cross-team campaign meetings, according to Charlie Fiordalis, who leads a team of 50 as managing director of digital for Media Storm.

Fiordalis was previously executive director of client services for Omnicom agency Organic, and held roles at Digitas, Y&R and NBC Universal. He now oversees roll-out of new technologies for his media-planning team. These have included partnerships with Tremor on "all screen" video advertising and partnership and with Eyeview to customize audience segments for TV clients.

Fiordalis spoke with AdExchanger.

AdExchanger: Who is on your roster?

CHARLIE FIORDALIS: We do campaigns with FOX, FX, MTV, the Food Network, but we have wins outside of that space. We’re working with Chipotle, Phillips 66 and Memorial Sloan Kettering, and are broadening out from the entertainment space.

With broadcasters launching branded content divisions – how does that impact the agency relationship?

It only helps us. Their product is creative and content and there’s never been more amazing content out there than there is now. Whatever content they create, a lot of it we’re able to feed in a digital PR way with Hip Genius and get tremendous organic distribution based on the relationships we have. And that content can be created by their internal groups or through partnerships we negotiate with AOL or MSN or even Xbox now. All that content I see as a very important currency for brands to have an authentic conversation with consumers.

Media Storm was an early customer of Tremor's “all-screen” video optimization tool. What problem does that solve?

Tremor's technology is able to look at how things are delivered, what results are, and optimize to the screens that perform best based on the metrics we’re looking at. That saves extra manual work that I think leaves room for error and lag time. If we had to plan and buy across all screens individually, which is basically what we’ve had to do up until this year, you’d have to optimize each one of them and there’s tremendous error that can arise.

How do you select tech at the agency level? Do you need client buy-in?

This is why I work in digital and not another area. Our culture here is based on ideas as currency. We meet with tens of partners a week. How do we get reach against our core audience and use media to inform that and do it quickly? We go out, talk to everybody and we have some preferred partners with first look opportunities, like the one Tremor (and now Eyeview) brought to us.

A hot topic in digital video/TV convergence is measurement. What is the main barrier?

I think measurement is a very real barrier here and I was very excited about Nielsen OCR and comScore vCE, but we’ve seen a very small percentage of those deployed on campaigns on our side. I think the reason is the information is really most valuable to publishers so they can make the argument to actually move the dollars over to digital video.

I wouldn’t be surprised if publishers start to bundle OCR and vCE in for free on their side and start to include in post-reporting the kinds of data that used to come from the agency side, and be able to say, “If you had shifted ‘x’ amount of dollars over to digital, you would have seen a lift in impressions or reach,” and help make that argument.

What about inventory availability? YouTube is talking about “Google Preferred” reserved media for TV buyers.

Premium programmatic, the shift of viewing online, higher quality content – those are all signs that there is a lot more to buy, and I am glad to see premium programmatic is starting to really take off. As to why they’re (YouTube, etc.) all starting to make announcements – I think it’s emblematic of a larger shift toward a day when we’ll be able to buy addressable television in the way we buy online video.

Are you seeing programmatic interest from clients?

I think it’s very specific to individual client needs. I worked with a couple of CPG clients in my last role and they were spending, I’d say, 40% (of media budgets) in programmatic. It was a huge number. Last year, I saw very large numbers in programmatic and a great synergy between SEM and programmatic display and programmatic video. I gained real respect for what big data could do to inform smaller choices with higher impact.

How do programmatic client needs differ by industry?

When I moved to entertainment, they approached programmatic in a very different way. It has to do with the timeframe and guarantees. We do the majority of a budget launching a new show in two days before the launch of it. Programmatic is usually not guaranteed. Brand safety is really important to our clients and sometimes you have to relax brand safety in programmatic. We do not do as much programmatic in entertainment as in CPG. The tactics and data we can use in programmatic now are evolving and I think are very strong tools, so this could change.

How about on the agency side? You’re seeing some traditionally “search-centric” houses push into RTB.

Smart agencies mirror the structure of their clients because you want to mirror their needs. Just mobile, over the past year, accounts for 55% of Internet usage in the US. Almost all of that is in-app and that is only going to increase over time. We have really blurred the lines ourselves. We don’t put mobile as a separate line item. That is why all-screen is a nice moniker for how we try to plan digital. We have also collapsed departments. Our digital group now does not have specialty departments. The entire group, depending on the campaign, works on the strategy and the tactics holistically. We do social, SEM and RTB media, as well as the larger negotiated deals all in the same group now.

 

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