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Ten Thoughts from Ad Agencies at the 2019 Digiday Media Buying Summit

November 1st, 2019   ||    by Gary Milner

I was at the Digiday Media Buying Summit in Miami recently with many of the industry agency, AdTech suppliers and brands. Although there wasn’t a specific session on 2020 predictions, it is clear the media business is in a world of change and will continue as the digital cookie monster eats its way into TV distribution and advertising. On top of this, brands are demanding more control and transparency of how their dollars are spent.

Here is a sample of what was on everyone’s minds:

1. In-Housing. Agencies recognize this is a recurring topic but realize that it probably makes sense for only a few clients. Plus, in-housing can mean many things. Chris Apostle, Chief Media Officer of iCrossing thought brands are focused on “in-housing of data, managing audience journeys and owning the AdTech contracts to make it all happen.” He continued, “We need to think about how in-housing could hurt us.”

However, Josh Palau, VP media strategy & platforms of Bayer Consumer Health, presented their journey as part of “Project Mayhem”. In their case, they ran media buying in-house and increased media budgets significantly by driving efficiency; implemented multi-touch attribution, improved fee structures and implemented viewable CPM as a buy criteria over base CPM. Was it easy? No! A whole cadence of operational attitudes and processes had to be built. “Share everything” was one element – an attitude that is lacking in many siloed brands and agency organizations.

2. Audience Buying. Nancy Hall, SVP, programmatic, at Cadreon, delivered an enlightening presentation on moving media buying to audience buying. “The new normal, audience buying across every available channel.” This drives incredible buying efficiency but demands identity management, giving thought to storytelling and sequencing of content, accurate targeting and advanced measurements. A key benefit is enhanced frequency management drives efficiency of any campaign. Over frequency in many campaigns is an industry disease driving dollar waste.

3. Organization. Referring to audience buying mentioned above, many organizations aren’t set up for this. Brands are often set up by media channel, driving budget infighting and territory wars. The current situation of online digital video, linear TV and OTT are cases in point. The future is not a fragmented organization. Hall highlighted this is a risk with clients not being flexible to move budgets across channels.

4. Scrutinization. Agencies feel like they are under scrutiny like never before. This is not likely to change as clients increasingly become more involved in the media buying process.

5. Amazon. Who owns this marketing or distribution is a question agencies are asking clients. Given Amazon’s size, linkage to commerce and ambitions will be more and more of a focus. Watch out for more specific Amazon-related conferences in a city near you.

6.  Brand Safety to Brand Context. In a world where privacy is becoming more important, the aspect of context, where your content appears in addition to the traditional brand fraud/viewability, was discussed by Facebook’s agency lead, Jason Dailey. Their placement controls are now allowing where an ad is to be shown inventory filters to manage reach vs. safety and publisher delivery (i.e. where you ran vs. expectation).

7. New Platforms. Given the massive rise in use of social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter, no one wants to be last to the party related to emergent platforms. So, what about TikTok? Its use seemed to be aligned to product launches where “moments” could be created with content. Expect more brands to test this. Swati Bothra, director, digital marketing lead from eos showed how this was done with 3.6 billion video views and 872,000 entries into their campaign.

8. Creative. Brittany Richter, SVP head of products and services from iProspect talked about liquid talent – a new type of creative resource that understands creative doesn’t have to be perfect. You don’t need a month to build creative anymore and talent needs to be curious about data driving creative. Sean Corcoran, president at Mediahub has a view that the creative world is still not ready for the programmatic world.

9. Video. Managing a whole video plan across linear, addressable TV, OTT and digital will become increasingly important. Industry moves such as Roku buying dataxu, AT&T buying clypd, along with a SpotX liaison, needed to cross-manage addressable TV and OTT buys for brands and DSPs.

10. Health in Agencies. The workplace is very dynamic and demanding which can lead to high stress levels for recruits. Chris Apostle of iCrossing talked about recruiting more local talent and developing their career through centers of excellence in Arizona. The range of experience that can be gained in the agency world is unmatched by brands or AdTech.

2020 and beyond will continue to be tumultuous in the media world with more TV digitization, more holistic measurement systems across the customer journey and organizational design shake ups, all in the headwind of an uncertain privacy world.

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