Guest comment: Rethinking The Brand-Agency Relationship | Netimperative – latest digital marketing news

Ben Murphy, UK MD at Quantcast looks at the ways that data can help agencies and brands to better communicate.

For a variety of reasons, we’ve seen a growing trend towards in-housing in the marketing industry, with many brands opting to shift more and more of their marketing efforts to their internal teams. This trend is set to continue with 58% of CMOs globally saying they are likely to in-house digital and programmatic in the next two to three years. In a context with increased martech, adtech and automation available – agencies are under pressure to prove their worth and ensure that they are indispensable to their clients. Having worked on both sides of the fence, agency side as well as client-side, I have no doubt about the value an agency brings to the ecosystem.

In the current market, unlocking the value of data presents a unique opportunity for agencies and brands to collaborate on precisely targeted campaigns. Here are my top five tips for how agencies and brands can use data to boost campaign effectiveness.

Become Insights Allies

The big data era is well and truly here – not just in advertising, but across an ever-increasing number of industries. Today’s marketing professional is all too aware that the increased availability of data means more precise targeting and personalisation, yet many still struggle to turn this information into actionable, focussed strategy. This is where agencies have an opportunity to become brands’ allies in the search for relevant audience insights and work together to navigate the sea of data to inform impactful marketing campaigns.

Move Beyond Gut Instinct and a Good Narrative

Data insights should inform an entire campaign process from start to finish. When an agency receives a brief, before developing any creative, it’s essential that they truly understand their clients’ audience to ensure that messaging and design, as well as distribution channels are tailored to exact audiences.

Understanding audiences goes beyond high level demographic information – the most successful and effective campaigns have multiple layers of targeting: beyond identifying and reaching the right audience, customising creatives and time of exposure is also crucial. Armed with the right data, and the tools to make sense of it, agencies can also reveal granular psychographic and technographic information about their client’s audience, helping them to validate audience assumptions and unveil new insights and audiences that had not yet been considered.

In the data era, ideas for ideas’ sake are no longer valid – marketers are now able to use insights to inform all phases of the campaign. This starts with a robust understanding of the target audience, but also means the entire creative is rooted in facts and data insight, making it multi-disciplined and more reliable. Agencies are well placed to break the walls between departments and encourage the use of data throughout campaigns.

Become Long Term Partners

While there’s a lot of pressure on agencies to deliver on short term goals, long term partnerships can lead to more efficient and creative campaigns. A recent WFA study revealed that 65% of marketers globally believe long-term agency relationships are important or essential to producing great work. In my experience, the most successful partnerships are when agencies become an extension of their client’s marketing department and deeply understand not just their campaign goals, but their long-term vision.

Share Their Unique Expertise

Agencies can offer unique value to brands – rather than having a single market vision, agencies often work across a variety of industries and can paint a fuller picture of changing consumer behaviour. This broader perspective means that they are able to unlock audiences that brands had not previously considered and unmask wider trends that their clients are unlikely to recognise. Additionally, agencies have years’ worth of data-based storytelling experience that they can leverage and demonstrate how the “art and science” of data and creative can work in harmony. This, in turn, results in dynamic campaign work which guarantees a positive impact on their clients’ bottom line.

Boost Transparency and Brand Safety

CMOs continue to voice their concerns surrounding brand safety and consumer privacy – this gives agencies an opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to data compliance laws and regulations and take the pressure off CMOs. By showing their clients that they only partner with minutely vetted data providers, they can save them the trouble of having to go through this process themselves.

Moreover, transparency and measurability remain important issues in the industry. Improved reporting thanks to data-powered tools will be crucial in helping agencies evidence return on investment to their clients.

Harnessed correctly, data presents agencies with an opportunity to revolutionise the way they work with their clients and gain a competitive edge. From unlocking audience insights to more transparent reporting – data is key to the agency-brand relationship of today and tomorrow.

By Ben Murphy