Agency Roles Are Changing As Brands Rewrite The Media Playbook

joannaoconnelrevised“Marketer’s Note” is a regular column informing marketers about the rapidly evolving, digital marketing technology ecosystem. This week it is written by Joanna O’Connell, Director of Research, AdExchanger Research.  

This week I released my new research report, The “6-5-3” Framework: How to Pick the Right Programmatic Media Management Model, and presented it at yesterday’s Programmatic I/O conference in NYC. I wanted to use a few column inches to share, in brief, what this report is all about.

I’ll start by explaining why I undertook this research in the first place. In the face of the rapidly rising tide of programmatic, the last year has seen a lot of public discussion on the “in-house” question. Namely, are marketers really considering, or actually taking, media management in-house and, if so, why? Like any good researcher would, I set out to find the answer. Twenty-plus interviews (with marketers, agencies and technology companies alike) later, a story began to emerge: Yes, many marketers are rethinking the role of their agencies for media management, and yes, many are thinking long and hard about where media management should in fact live, but to simply note that “all marketers are taking media in-house” is simply not true.

Reality is, as always, so much more complex.

In brief, here’s what I found:

There are six (“6”) overarching forces driving marketers to think long and hard about the role of their agencies:

  1. Agencies’ reticence, or inability, to invest in needed programmatic skills
  2. Lack of agency transparency and conflict-of-interest questions
  3. Marketers embracing their first-party data, and holding on tight to it
  4. New “efficiency” pressures within marketers’ organizations
  5. The emergence of alternative service options
  6. The rise of self-serve tools, which opened the door for in-house management

There are five (“5”) key roles needed for effective programmatic media management:

  1. Strategic direction-setting and decision-making
  2. Executional and operational heavy lifting
  3. Data management and analysis
  4. Partner stewardship
  5. Back-office support

And, critically, there are still three very different service models marketers are choosing:

  1. “Agency-Led” puts agencies in the driver’s seat
  2. “Agency Involved” is a client-led partnership
  3. “In-House” managed means marketers do the heavy lifting

Of course, my goal in writing this report was not simply to describe what was happening, but to give marketers some help in thinking through what makes sense for them. So I created a self-assessment tool to help marketers choose the right path (or perhaps “best fit” path, if I’m being honest).

I hope you find value in the research! It was certainly an excellent learning experience for me!


Follow Joanna O’Connell (@joannaoconnell ) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter. 

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1 Comment

  1. We all know the story of the carpenter who told the homeowner with the squeaky floor board that it would be $45 to fix it – $1 to hammer in the nail and $44 for knowing where to hammer it. I believe that marketers saw the $1 in this equation and thought that agencies were reaping huge profits out of the $44. I think that trend is slowing or even partly reversing, as they now realize that it can often cost the marketer themselves well more than $44 to do that same work. Not all agencies do it great, and not all marketers are unable, but I believe most agencies will get this right in the long-term and prove that $44 is quite the value indeed.