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Marketers should embrace an independent digital media agency to take full advantage of digital opportunities

Written by Ryan | 04-Jul-2014 15:45:00

This week Marketing Week argued that Marketers need to embrace their media agency. In our view there is no doubt about this, but we would add that it is easier to embrace an Independent agency than to try to get your arms around a large network.

As an Independent agency we can’t risk going after quick wins. To be successful, we need to have long term relationships with Clients and need to build trust quickly. This means creating a partnership with them and demonstrating that we understand their business and can add value and Insight quickly.

Can Big Agencies ever be agile, creative and effective enough?

Marketing Week highlight the new relationship that Mindshare and Unilever are developing:

“Unilever has also stepped up the digital planning capability of its team at Mindshare and how it looks to buy media, according to UK & Ireland media director Sarah Mansfield.

The FMCG business, which owns brands including Lynx, Dove and Marketing Week ’s Brand of the Year Marmite, launched its own trading desk within the WPP agency that operates separately from its centralised Xaxis offering.”

Decision makers at Mindshare and Unilever must have some really good reasons for doing this, but it sounds like the worst of both worlds to me. Retaining the business within one of the world’s largest network agencies which isn’t as nimble, adaptive and keen as an independent has to be, whilst limiting the network and the team to working solely on Unilever brands meaning experience, insight and technology learnings aren’t shared, seems to offer no advantages at all.

Programmatic buying is certainly one small part of the puzzle for increasing efficiency and the opportunity for generating data and expert Insight, but it’s not the whole story by a long shot and this sounds like an attempt to do that whilst tying both hands behind your back.

Independent Agencies need to achieve effectiveness through more than just low prices

Jenny Biggam from independent Agency (The7Stars) points out one of the reasons an agile independent agency can be an advantage:

“the rise of digital media almost removes the argument for needing big volume to buy well.

“It’s about technology and having the skills to optimise campaigns, which ultimately gets the lowest cost for clients. It’s nothing to do with media agencies having buying clout,”

Although Jenny certainly nails the point about the limited benefit of buying clout, she still seems to think that getting the “lowest cost for clients” is the important thing. It’s easy for anyone to use programmatic buying to get the lowest cost (the “race to the bottom”) but that isn’t what makes for successful digital activity.

Agencies should be using a team of well trained and experienced specialists, and a range of technology and channels to generate the highest revenue in the most effective way over the long term for their Clients. Experienced independent agencies who embrace new technology constantly, train and retain staff are superbly placed to deliver this as an agile, flexible, effective and trusted partner, rather than just a corporate supplier.