Why Security Company ADT Brought All Of Its Media Buying In House

Smart home devices are not the first things that come to mind when consumers think of ADT.

That caused a perception issue for the 145-year-old home security brand, which is one of the largest smart home security providers in the market. So when ADT brought on ex-Chewy.com, Amazon and eBay marketing exec Jochen “JK” Koedijk as CMO, they tasked him with modernizing ADT’s brand messaging.

To best execute on that, Koedijk brought ADT’s digital and linear TV media buying in house.

“When you bring things in house, you can increase ownership and control on your own capabilities,” he said. “It allows you to move a lot faster in your execution as well.”

Traditionally, ADT outsourced all of its marketing activities. While it still works with McCann on strategic creative, the company whittled down its list of media agency partners from 15 to zero between Q4 of 2018 and July of this year.

“In terms of branding and positioning, it’s always good to incorporate outside perspectives,” Koedijk said. “But media operations work more efficiently and effectively if you bring it under one roof than when it’s disjointed and run by external parties.”

Koedijk began ADT’s in-housing process shortly after joining the company in August 2018 by cleaning up its data and analytics infrastructure to close the loop on customer interactions. Then it gradually brought different media buying functions into the company, starting with digital.

Within six months, ADT was buying all search, social display and video in-house, as well as linear TV, radio and direct mail.

“We emphasized speed from the beginning,” Koedijk said. “If you take a year to transition, effectively you’re a year in limbo. We wanted to minimize that period of ambiguity as much as possible.”

As for many brands, the most challenging aspect of in-housing for ADT has been recruiting and retaining top talent. The company’s headquarters in Boca Raton, Florida isn’t exactly a hotbed for marketing talent, Koedijk said. But the brand has been able to attract top execs in its Aurora, Colorado office, its newest office which houses part of its 80-person marketing team.

ADT is still looking for mass media buyers and digital marketing talent in search and digital video. Without an agency, resource flexibility remains a challenge.

“When you have an agency and something is on fire, it’s always helpful when they can put more people on the priority at hand,” Koedijk said. “With an in-house team, you want to run leaner.”

Koedijk has worked at fast-moving tech companies that prefer to build over buy, so bringing media in house was an intuitive decision.

But in-housing at ADT required a cultural shift alongside the evolution of its brand. Besides talent, Koedijk needed buy-in from senior leadership.

“We discussed this as a leadership team and there’s never been any hesitation,” he said.

While ADT has achieved 20% greater efficiencies by in-housing media, its main objective was never solely to cut costs. Rather, it’s about controlling how data flows through the company, how quickly that data is updated and how it plays into media buying decisions.

“There will always be different placements that you buy when you don’t push the buttons yourself,” Koedijk said. “Efficiency for us was more of a guardrail.”

ADT has in some cases been able to find greater pricing efficiencies in the upfront, which it attended this year without representation by an agency. But that has required a new effort around creating direct relationships with media sellers, and an acceptance that it won’t always be able to get quite as favorable rates as agencies can.

“An enormous advantage of having an agency partner is the amount of media that they buy and the price that they’re able to negotiate around that,” Koedijk said. “So it’s a lot of work.”

But as linear and digital channels increasingly converge, and more transparency begins to enter the media buying landscape, control over media buying decisions matters more to ADT than immediate pricing efficiencies.

“Control on the individual placement level applies more so on digital and programmatic, but it definitely is not irrelevant in mass media, and especially TV buying,” Koedijk said.

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