Archive for the ‘Agencies’ Category

So many awesome ideas from so many people to improve product, but it’ll always be impossible to fulfil all desires in an acceptable time frame to stakeholders, making prioritisation not only challenging but extremely important.

Process, data, collaboration and determination can certainly make prioritisation all the more effective and smoother, so looking at these areas in more detail:

Process: Status of projects, where do product requests / bugs sit in the pecking order, ETA on delivery, investment cost and projected value of projects held in a transparent way will help with the communication overhead and help maintain trust.

Data: To ensure that high value items are being worked on you need data to backup assumptions. It can be easy to flap and try to make a problem out to be bigger than it is to get it done, but there should always be some kind of data to back it up with examples being: incremental revenue which can be reverse engineered from retention uplift rates or projected acquisition volume increases using ARPU for example. Other ways of projecting value / determining scale of the problem is customer support queries or customer feedback, site loading times, efficiency in terms of £££ saving eg. Man hours / days or software costs etc.

Collaboration: Discussing value and priority options openly with your colleagues will help you deliver a product in a more confident and focused way, as it’s not easy making the big decisions on prioritisation because what’s at the top or moves to the top means that the items below won’t be done now or perhaps anytime soon, so checking and agreeing on the focus / roadmap helps to give confidence to just get on with delivering a high quality & value product without having to worry about justifying a decision you’ve made alone every minute of the day.

Determination: Prioritisation changes frequently if you work in an agile environment, so being positive and determined to deliver upcoming projects you’ve been discussing for months or even years helps to keep focus on delivering the key business goals and provides reminders that it’s still on the agenda, no matter the level of incoming bombshells / distractions.

If someone asks for something to be done urgently without providing any numbers representing the projected value or any element to give an idea of the scale of the problem you’re looking to solve, then asking why do it or what happens if we don’t do it in the next 12 months should help to quickly prompt the need to research more into the value.

Projecting investment cost and taking time to dig into the real value the product change will make in a collaborative way, will ensure that you’re delivering frequent value to customers internally and externally in a happy, fun and relaxed environment.

Team-image

There’s no doubt that it’s desirable for a team to be happy for many obvious reasons including productivity, but a few do’s and don’ts to retain a jolly happy team ☺:
Do

  • Be polite irrelevant of who you’re talking to – thank you, I appreciate that, thanks
  • Offer help if you see a colleague struggling
  • We have done that – embrace the team
  • Congratulate your colleagues on achievements
  • Share any positive performance off the back of effort
  • Own up / apologise for contributing to buggering anything up accidently
  • Be positive day to day
  • Be honest sooner rather than later so people have time to improve
  • Chill and take time out to talk non-shop to your colleagues
  • Discuss / focus on what problems you’re looking to solve
  • Ask why it’s valuable
  • Allow autonomy

Don’t

  • Blame a work colleague directly but instead discuss whos responsibility it is and how we can avoid it in future
  • Dictate solutions to colleagues. discuss the problem and how you need help solving it instead. Troops will stand by and support you whatever the need
  • There’s absolutely no need or nothing to gain from being rude or a bully, other than your work colleagues keeping their distance from you. You can always get what you want from being polite and direct.
  • Focus on problems with agreed solutions (negativity)
  • There’s no I in team
  • Contradict yourself regularly to avoid confusion and frustration

This may all be obvious, but get it wrong and there could be an expensive mass exodus which will impact productivity, but adopting at least a few of these will result in Spartans banging their swords against their shields ready to defend the realm with you.

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I had the pleasure of catching up with Paul Silver who is Chief Strategy Officer at Media IQ the other month. From planning and buying across multiple accounts to diving into data to really help solve client problems and needs was part of the discussion.

Having an extremely granular optimisation and well executed programmatic strategy helps identify those high performing segments, but it also highlights a challenge when it comes to predicting / forecasting the ROI for the individual segments / campaigns. Each segment is likely to have significantly different ARPUs and churn rates and you want to avoid pausing a campaign which is performing better than the channel average, but also stop campaigns which perform worse than the channel average (LTV is normally worked out on a channel basis).

Media IQ have built predictive and forecasting models to help advertisers solve this problem plugging these models into campaigns run by Media IQ or just purchasing them off the shelf to use in-house. The models which update as campaigns mature would give optimisers insight into which segments are most likely going to yield a positive ROI for segments without having to do manual calculations each time across a huge set of ad campaigns / segments.

With £billions being spent on advertising there’s also £billions wasted, so it’s good to get some scientific help to avoid this as much as possible but also ramp up ad spend in the most attractive areas.

This is a good example of how the new age ad agencies / consultancies are helping advertisers solve their problems without just taking media spend and adding a high margin on top.

You can of course build your own models but if you want to avoid the hassle then I’d recommend speaking to Media IQ.

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Since the rise of bid optimising / RTB there’s been more of an appetite for advertisers to seriously consider taking the digital media planning and buying function in-house, for many reasons whether cost savings or the function being closer to product.

Due to this, there’s been a shift in why and where people change jobs within the digital media industry.

Neil Middlemass’s recruitment consultancy ran a survey recently asking the burning key questions (below) to industry specialists resulting in the truth about moving in house being revealed.

The Headlines
Why does everyone want to move in-house?
Career
Do client-side roles pay more?
Will working client-side improve my career progression?
Is it easier to diversify your channel exposure in-house?
Are agency acquired skills valued higher than in-house skills?
What draws senior agency people in-house?
Hiring
What are the benefits of employing agency people into in-house roles?
Working Mechanics
Do you have more influence and control working in-house?
Is client-side work too far away from the action?
Is it easier to get campaigns signed off in-house?
Is it more difficult to stay up to date with the market in-house?
Lifestyle
Is the work/life balance better in-house?
How does the social life at work differ?
Where are in-house roles based?
Working Environment
How does the working culture differ in-house compared to agency?
Do you have to work harder at an agency?
How target-driven are in-house roles and how is success measured?
Are the offices more or less impressive client-side?
How big are in-house teams compared to agency side?
How much does the vertical the company works in affect the culture of the company?
Conclusions?
After speaking to everyone, what did I learn?

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It continues to disappoint me when I hear about large blue chip clients working on the default 30 day PV (post view) cookie window for display campaigns and then accepting 100% of the PV conversions. Not only this, but in most cases no viewability tech is being used.

When looking at your PV cookie window, typically it should be set to mirror what you have deemed to be the average consideration time to purchase as well as taking into account the ad format.

On the other hand, you want to avoid coming up with an arbitrary PV window which so many brands do.

Fortunately there is a robust way of finding out what percentage of PV conversions are genuine which you can use for future campaigns. This is called a ‘Placebo Test’. You would run an A/B test with one of your creatives adserved alongside a charity creative. Post campaign you minus the in view PV conversions which the charity creative delivered (which are obviously incorrect) from the in view PV conversions your brand creative delivered. This will leave you with the remainder of in view PV conversions which you can class as genuine. Work out what the percentage of genuine in view PV conversions were and then you can use this percentage within the buying platform which will mean only the percentage which has been proved genuine in the past will be accepted and attributed for the current and future campaigns.

Ideally you should expect the ‘Placebo Test’ to look something like the below. If both lines are similar then the banners are not working on a brand basis and they therefore don’t offer any value outside the click. The mention of ‘Placebo’ below would be a charity creative.

PV

Things to consider:

  1. You need £10k media investment
  2. Banners incl. charity banners
  3. Partner eg. MediaMath, DBM or Media IQ
  4. Viewability tech eg. Spider.io
  5. You only have to run it once per product

By overvaluing a channel like display has two main consequences 1. Wasting marketing budget as you could re-allocate some of the display budget to other better performing channels and 2. An algorithm optimising on bad data will only mean that it will aim to optimise towards that bad data more.

On the subject of display wastage, I recently worked with Exchange Wire on an article about my frustrations of DSP’s not integrating with third party viewability tech and the impact.

If agencies and brands stop wasting marketing budget and run display campaigns as they should be done in a more genuine way, the channel will then get the respect it deserves.

Ever wondered what the digital agency market looks like from space?

Well Neil’s Recruitment did and as a result they built the below infographic:

”Digital

Not enough

Scenario: Revenue has been declining for years and the CEO is pointing the finger at acquisition marketing to grow business. Planners are very familiar with this scenario.

I wrote an article recently that all programmatic buying should be in-house, but if a brand is expecting that this alone will solve a decline in revenue, then they need to wake up and smell the coffee.

With ad spend over £15bn / year in the UK alone, this brings a lot of hungry salesman to your door insisting that their product is the best and that you should invest, which puts pressure on CEO’s and CMO’s to potentially waste a lot of money testing out the same option over and over again or testing out an option which only has a 1% chance of working to key KPIs. Also accepting a post-view window across their display buys as default because they’ve been constantly told that ‘the flashy banners are driving all organics’ is something which gets banded around often. With that amount of ad spend floating about also brings an opportunity for large sums of money to change hands under desks without the brand (if it’s an agency) or without the investors finding out.

Just because there is more hype than ever when it comes to advertising eg. programmatic buying, DSP’s and trading desks, it doesn’t mean that focus and investment should divert away from other core business areas. Many CEO’s feel that obsessing about acquisition marketing is the way forward because of the simplicity of delivering an ad which a potential customer can click on in conjunction with hundreds of salesman saying that this is the answer, but for those who are keen to work backwards – finding out why high value customers are leaving feeding this back into dev and marketing, developing products across all devices, looking at CRM and key promotions are the ones who will survive and therefore be able to afford a significantly higher CPA than competitors, giving the trading desk plenty of ad options which competitors cannot afford to buy.

If all of the below areas work together to achieve a common goal then the long term consequence of this will be shown in bottom line results and staff retention rates in a positive way:

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It was really nice to read Marco Bertozzi’s article the other day where he used a personal example to demonstrate that spending money on advertising isn’t the only way of generating revenue and growth.

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Programmatic

When a process is automated and self-service is the definition of programmatic.

When looking at programmatic buying, this would include: paid search, Facebook marketplace and FBX, affiliates, display RTB, online video RTB and any other biddable media / RTB buy.
Trading Desk

A team of ‘programmatic planners / buyers’ is the definition of a trading desk.

Most agencies claim they have a ‘trading desk’ yet run paid search, affiliates and Facebook marketplace in different buildings to their RTB buys, in which case they should be called a managed service DSP or ad network.

Only when an agency has all programmatic buying under one team and one ‘head of’ can they truly call themselves a trading desk and have the ability to run a trading desk as it should be done.

In house

Ad agencies have offered huge value for advertisers for decades and continue to do so. This will never change.

The key benefits of outsourcing the media planning and buying function to ad agencies include the likes of: global negotiating power, specialist contacts for sponsorship deals, cross client learnings, cross channel integration, deal with the hassle and admin and it’s someone for the CMO or CEO to blame if the business isn’t hitting key targets.

With programmatic buying (Paid Search, Social Media, Display RTB, Online Video, Mobile and Affiliates) becoming the bulk of digital Marketing, the majority of these benefits no longer applies therefore it doesn’t make sense and can be classed as lazy if a brand wasn’t to even consider taking all programmatic buying in-house.

Although rightfully CEO’s obsess about growth, also ‘wastage’ and efficiency across the business needs to be reviewed often.

Let’s look at the pros and cons for taking all programmatic buying in-house:
Pros

  • New digital media team would be sitting next to all other marketing areas eg. CRM, creative, content, web design, product managers.
  • Close to business KPI’s and budgets so they can be extremely reactive.
  • No hidden margins in bid platforms.
  • Can often get cheaper adserving and bid platform rates.
  • Team become specialists in the business sector / vertical.
  • 100% of time and focus will be given to the one client.
  • Learnings and data won’t be shared with other clients with no chance of leakage to competitors.
  • Can turn around new campaigns significantly quicker.
  • 24 hour contact.
  • Will always have the time to stay ahead of the game.
  • Work closely with the data team / in-house DMP optimising on real KPI’s such as revenue / LTV / ARPU.
  • Can openly recommend business requirements to CEO in order to get things done quickly and grow the business.
  • No hidden agendas – everyone aiming for the same goal.
  • Other internal departments can be educated about what role the media buy has on business goals.

Cons

  • Can take six months to recruit team, train grads and setup systems and data integrations.
  • Ad agency would have to make more effort to integrate offlline and online brand with internal programmatic team.
  • The CEO might ignore team recommendations of key requirements needed to improve marketing.
  • CMO would need to find someone who has +5 years experience in programmatic buying across all channels to head up the team and train the grads.

There are certainly plenty of pros and if you’re wondering how to kick things off, speak to some of the recruitment agencies below who will be able to provide an abundance off free advice:

Neil’ Recruitment

Digital Bubble

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As digital media skills become more valuable to the industry and there’s a huge lack of them in certain areas, some grads in their first job in marketing / advertising are demanding an extra £20k pay rise in the first 18 months of starting work.

This causes many issues especially ad agencies when it comes to managing retention. iProspect are a good example of how agencies have had to adapt by adopting a quarterly pay review rather than annual.

With these ludicrous demands at such an early stage in their career, minimal work experience and a lack of key skills which is required to be able to think for themselves, have the confidence or knowledge to improve campaign performance independently and generally still at the stage where they’re sitting at their desk wondering ‘what to do next’ is causing a level of ungratefulness and sense that there could be greater long term benefit / ROI to businesses by scrapping a grad only policy and accepting school leavers as a priority in some cases.

The right school leaver may not be able to string along words as grammatically correct and might require a calculator more often than grads, but what they do bring to the table is an abundance of common sense, drive, passion for their job, ability to get things done in a proactive way with less moaning and more doing , all of which are only normally naturally gained when working full time from the age of 16-18.

Let’s face it, we all know that you don’t need to be a rocket science to work in marketing / advertising and for those grads who think that all that’s required in our industry to get significant auto payrises is a degree and to turn up for work, really do need to wake up and smell the coffee because the industry is a fairly close nit industry and those who put the effort in will shine and those who expect an easy ride will be quickly identified.

Just because a degree is missing from a CV, employers should think twice before discounting the applicant.

Neil’s recruitment blog touches on school leavers in digital media nicely.

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A traditional way an ad agency generated revenue was through a variety of ways such as agency fee, adserving mark up, bid platform fee mark up and preferred partner trading deal kickbacks.

With more and more channels becoming programmatic led where negotiating doesn’t come into it and clients rightfully continue to be protective over their data, ad agencies are finding it increasingly difficult to stop revenue declining.

It’s becoming more popular for brands to include ad data into their existing DMP keeping the data in house and secure, take control of the adserving and bid platform contracts for further transparency and handle all biddable media / programmatic buying in house (paid search, desktop and mobile display (incl. RMTG), Facebook, Twitter, video / VOD….) allowing the brand to react quickly to ROI data and innovative new media options keeping them ahead of the game.

So this leaves a big hole in many traditional ad agency wallets meaning they’ll have to adapt to meet the current demands of brands. So what will the focus be on over the coming years for them:

  • Offline planning and buying will always be an essential part of an ad agency even as offline including TV transitions over to programmatic buying
  • Large sponsorships will also need global negotiating power so although there will be certain levels of kickbacks, ad agencies will always get a far superior deal than a brand
  • Consultation – although many digital agency specialists will move over to client direct, there will be a need across certain brands for support in setting up custom attribution models internally, econometrics and business development (whether it’s advising the CEO to focus on app development, building out their DMP for more insightful data or improving their in house trading desk) all of which would be priced accordingly.

Ad agencies will always be there to support brands whatever their needs, but in future it will be in a more transparent way.