Real-Time Automation Changing The Media Planner Roles Says Maxus Data And Insights Director Lawson

MaxusMartin Lawson of media agency Maxus Global – which is under WPP’s groupm umbrella – was recently appointed Maxus’ Global Data and Insights Director. Previously, he was Head of Insight at digital agency i-level.

From the release, much of Lawson’s work for Maxus “will focus on strengthening Maxus’s ‘Relationship Media’ offering, a new media agency model powered by creative media thinking and sophisticated, real-time customer data.” Read more.

Lawson shared his thoughts on his new role and the evolution of the media agency model. As global data and insights director at Maxus, overall, how do you see your new role helping shape a new media agency model?

ML: It’s clear to me that most ‘traditional’ media agencies still need to improve their digital offering. They are in a great place to integrate digital into the media mix, but sometimes fall short in either strategic or technical competence. Or they may have both competences, but struggle to join them together. This shouldn’t really be a surprise, since they are already covering a lot of bases and are often of sufficient size that they can’t adapt their processes quickly enough to response to changes in the digital market. I also suspect that they aren’t being pushed hard enough by their clients in terms of integrated, digital strategies.

So this creates an opportunity for nimble, digitally-savvy agencies to exploit. The agencies that succeed in this area are likely to be small and young enough to avoid the trappings of scale and legacy process. However, to make an impact, they also need clout – primarily achieved through buying power. Maxus meets all of these criteria and is well on the way to delivering an innovative, future-facing approach to media planning. My contribution to this effort is to bring a blend of digital and traditional media evaluation experience and use it to underpin a planning process aimed at today’s consumers. We believe we have a compelling approach that is relevant for many advertisers. It’s a model that also recognises that consumers are increasingly engaging with media that aren’t bought or traded in a conventional way. It’s not a fixed model either, in fact it’s one that will need constant innovation.

Are media buyer and planner responsibilities beginning to change given the digital world? How?

The digital world demands that large volumes of data be processed – and decisions made – in a very short period of time. The ultimate extension of this is to automate real-time investment decisions using ad exchanges and DSPs. This doesn’t necessarily detract from the role of planners, since they need to both interrogate the results from automated investment decisions and – more importantly – set the strategy for digital activity. This requires an appreciation of all digital channels and how they integrate with other strands of comms activity. Successful planners in the future will need to both set the comms strategy and know how to deploy technology to help achieve this. Understanding how to get the most out of increasingly diverse and complicated digital channels will be the key.

Can you share any upcoming, big trends in digital media that you  will be keeping in front of for clients?

As digital fragments (in terms of both channels and devices), there is a real need to form comms strategies that can accommodate this complexity. To do this requires an understanding of how all the channels integrate over the entire customer journey. I’ve been passionate about understanding the interaction between digital channels for many years now, and whilst the argument against is compelling, there are still hosts of advertisers who make investment decisions on the back of the last-click-wins model. This is simple, but massively flawed; these advertisers are missing out on untold opportunities. The logical next step is to expand our perspective to incorporate non-digital channels into our assessment, and to understand not only the behaviour we see, but the motivation behind the decisions that people take as they engage with brands.  In terms of other trends, I don’t think it’ll be long before the industry substitutes the phrase ‘mobile’ with the term ‘location-based’ advertising. A subtle shift, but we need to accept that individuals behave very differently depending on their location. The technology exists to target people in this manner, so what are seen as cutting-edge ‘mobile’ campaigns now will soon be viewed differently. Location will be come another audience selection filter, and quite an important one.

By John Ebbert

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