Data As The Silo Breaker
In the past, Omnicom creatives had to walk to another room if they needed some data insight to inform their creative process.
Now “they’re building those other creative agency offers and services around Annalect,” Matts said.
Creative agency BBDO has a director of data solutions, Tina Allan, who translates Annalect findings into insights that creatives can use.
“It’s easy for us to say, ‘Here’s the box you have to play in. Good luck in this tiny little box,’” Matts said. “That’s the opposite of how we approach it.”
Even with data at the center, Omnicom wants to maintain individual agency cultures.
“You bought BBDO, you want BBDO,” Matts said. “Cultures are still important because that’s what individuals working at those agencies stand for.”
Allan agreed. “Clients aren’t buying the dashboard from Annalect,” she said. “They’re buying the people and the talent to connect the dots for them.”
When creative agency DDB won the McDonald’s account in August, Annalect was front and center at the pitch.
“Creative agencies are bringing us [to pitches] not to present credentials, but to actually present real data manipulated into provocative thoughts,” said Loren Grossman, chief experience officer at Annalect.
Those presentations can involve dynamic creative activations that go beyond display template swapping into personalized messaging throughout a customer’s journey.
“If we’ve customized a piece of paid display media to you, it makes a whole lot of sense that the client’s landing page would replicate our understanding of who you were as that creative target,” Grossman said. “We can touch things like search, landing pages, dynamic modules within emails, etc.”
Annalect Deep Dive
Although Annalect has standardized on Neustar’s DMP and has a programmatic trading desk, Accuen, it touts its tech agnosticism. Its execs emphasize Omnicom hasn’t taken stakes in ad tech companies or built its own data management platform. (The comment is likely a dig at rival holding company WPP, which invested $25 million in AppNexus, and another $25 million to build out its own DMP.)
“[Annalect is] completely neutral and open-sourced,” Matts said. “We want favored-nation status with everyone that we think is a critical player.”
Annalect claims neutrality is important when working with platforms like Facebook and Google, who might be wary around a holding company with a potentially competing ad stack.
While Annalect harnesses third-party and CRM data (through which it can perform functions like suppressing messaging to repeat customers or predict in-market timing), not every client is willing to share its data.
“As the industry matures, we have some clients who are more willing to share because they see the value,” Matts said. “On a client-by-client basis, there are absolutely some who are very sensitive to this. It tends to be in health care, banking and financial services.”
Annalect also has a consulting division to help manage tech stacks that clients buy but don’t know how to implement.
From the agency side, Annalect Consulting comes in handy when creative shops like BBDO need to interact with clients on more technical subjects.
“A lot of times we’ll bring Annalect into an area where we can’t necessarily help,” BBDO’s Allan said.
While competition is growing from technology firms and management consultancies angling to provide this kind of white-glove service, their lack of experience in media plays to Annalect’s advantage, Matts said.
“We were born in this world and this mindset,” she said. “We know the ins and outs of how a media plan works and the thousands of different decisions you have to make in a given week to make that [happen].”
Update: Erin Matts is the CEO of Omnicom in North America. Omnicom's BBDO already had AT&T's creative account. Volkswagen was added as another major account win for Omnicom this year.