Former Hill Holliday Exec Launches Independent Agency To Give Programmatic A Dose Of Creativity

anaAdam Cahill is taking his 20 years of digital media experience – during which he has worked at Dentsu Aegis Network agency Carat and, most recently, as chief digital officer at IPG’s Hill Holliday – and launching his own programmatic firm: Anagram.

The agency, which opened its doors Wednesday and will work exclusively with MediaMath’s ad tech solution, will develop and execute media campaigns, consult with companies interested in getting into programmatic and build custom applications that focus on creative.

This last element is key. While programmatic initiatives have traditionally focused on targeting and generating efficiencies, Cahill said, creative has not been a focus.

But he says it represents programmatic ’s next frontier.

“We now know so much about the type of person who is going to receive an ad,” Cahill told AdExchanger. “That’s what creativity in the programmatic world means: using data as a signal to create work that people want to see.”

Reimagining how programmatic can advance creative is at Anagram’s core, said Cahill, who also wants to depart from what Dynamic Creative Optimization (DCO) companies have done.

“Within DCO, there isn’t that much variation in messaging and themes,” he said. Anagram has a process called SprintScale, designed to test, via in-market experiments, what type of creative drives consumers to action.

“The whole approach is to do really purposeful, ongoing series of small experiments,” Cahill explained. “We don’t want to go to market with three pieces of creative, figure out which one works and run with it. We will constantly be going out with new approaches, learning from and executing new creative based on feedback.”

For example, a new consumer product will appeal to different people in different ways. Anagram will test different ways to communicate with those consumers, letting the marketplace reveal what works.

“DCO companies are phenomenal, but unless you have ideas that go into the tools, they’re just tools,” he said. “It’s not the same as trying to use programmatic as a place to explore actual ideas that connect with people.”

Anagram has four employees and works with two clients, though Cahill was only able to mention one on the record: OptiShot Golf. Anagram won’t be targeting any client vertical in particular because, according to Cahill, programmatic and digital are becoming increasingly synonymous.

“You can take any marketing challenge and put together a programmatic strategy for it,” he said. “The fundamental case I’m making to potential clients is that programmatic isn’t a sideshow. We’re at a point where you can do a great volume of all of your digital through programmatic.”

Brands are going to continue to hire specialists and continue to do non-exclusive relationships with lots of agency-like companies, he said, and Anagram is set up to work for brands, not for other agencies.

“If this business is going to grow it’s going to be because of hustle,” Cahill said. “There’s going to come a point in the near future where ‘programmatic specialty’ agencies will be included in RFPs, because there’s going to be less of a distinction between programmatic and digital. It’s going to be the same thing.”

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  1. Adam is that rarest combination of left brain, right brain. That’s why he’ll blend impact and efficiency in a new way that works for all parties.

  2. Glad to see the industry moving in the right direction. Data-driven marketing increasingly means that you take the data on media and creative performance and then change the creative messaging in response.

    This is actually very different than of course how things are done now where people build either only 1 creative or they use DCO ad units with data feeds to build thousands of variants which really only differ in what product SKU or location address they show in the ad. Creative agencies, media agencies, digital agencies, etc. will increasingly need to think about the workflow and technology to make that happen since this is where things will go.

  3. Kudos Adam! Filling a key need we’ve all been talking about for a while – hope our team gets to work with yours on solving some common client challenges down the road. Best!