Building a great relationship with your media-buying agents can save you money but requires that you take control of your marketing data

A little over a year ago, P&G’s Marc Pritchard, as the chief brand officer at the world’s largest advertiser, called for the media buying and selling industry to be cleaned up. He referred to the media buying and selling system as: “antiquated and not built for the technology revolution”, and went on to say that,

“we’re all wasting way too much time and money”

P&G started implementing third-party verifications, demanding transparent media agency contracts, and preventing ad fraud in collaboration with industry organisations such as the Trustworthy Accountability Group and Media Ratings Council, thereby pivoting the pressure onto the vendors in the media supply chain. The focus on media agencies – the likes of Mindshare, Mediacom, OMD, Starcom & PhD – and their contracts is particularly instructive. P&G demanded terms requiring their funds only to be used for media payment, all rebates to be disclosed and returned, and all transactions subject to audit. It is sobering to realise that no-one in the business of buying and selling media has earned the trust of the most significant player in their market.

Cutting US$ 200 million in spend

Marc Pritchard has since made a dent in the media buying and selling universe. In April this year, some 15 months after his initial remarks, P&G has reduced ads from “several big players” by 20 – 50 percent, yielding savings to P&G of more than US$ 200M while delivering an increase in reach of 10 percent.

Keith Weed, Pritchard’s counterpart at Unilever, the world’s third biggest spender in the 600 billion dollar market that is media advertising, gives a clue on how they tackle +the problem:

“In order to build transparency into the system, we need to track and transact across our entire media spend and start to measure total audiences.”

At Adverai we firmly believe that, as a brand, it is critical to record and keep every metric, from every media data source, and to control the analysis of that data yourself. When meeting customers, we hear how they face hundreds of spreadsheets of data from dozens of vendors all claiming to prove their work to be the primary reason for the success of their recent campaign. Making sense of these mountains of data is key.

Agencies not moving fast enough

“The big challenge is that the world is moving very fast and my experience is that agencies just haven’t moved fast enough”, said Keith Weed, speaking at the IAB conference in June this year, making it clear how moving fast is instrumental in a world where the velocity of change is ever-increasing. At Adverai we have always believed that understanding change, and the velocity of change, in your marketing data across all media data sources is in your best interest as a brand. It should not be outsourced to external teams. Achieving central visibility across all of your media data sources is the first step. To make it truly valuable, even more data sources need to be included, such as sales data and data from external sources such as weather and economic indicators. And to make it even more valuable, it should be possible to query all of this data in real time.

Ask Meta enables you to ask hundreds of pre-defined questions to get instant answers explained in clear and insightful visual narratives.

The users of Adverai Meta are given a real-time meta-understanding from as many data sources as they need, unified in a single software platform, provided on the basis of a yearly licence that is independent of media spend. From recording the data, and keeping it forever, we answer hundreds of questions in our predefined question and answer sets. Questions range from what creative concepts spur the strongest emotional reactions to which channel is driving the most reach, engagement, or conversations – today, last week, or last year – within milliseconds of asking the question. We record every change in all data sources and bring to the surface what is important to you using state-of-the-art neural network models, trained on your data.

As a marketer, it is important to be able to get a holistic understanding across channels, campaigns, brands and markets in minutes, rather than spending hours on the phone with your vendors, or trying to make sense and piece together the reports from your media agency with tools like Google Analytics and Facebook Insights.

Adverai Meta keeps users informed with an intelligent event stream highlighting the essential changes occurring throughout all of your marketing data. A classic, simple, but highly relevant example that Meta automatically detects is the campaign that is still drawing on your media budget, despite having ended, an occurrence that is worryingly common.

Meta Events keeps you informed about the important changes in your campaigns.

The intelligent event stream learns from your data and gives you immediate recommendations about correcting actions for your ads, campaigns, and strategies.

Adverai’s goal is to provide brands with the meta-understanding of marketing, to enable marketing teams to drive faster evidence-based decision making, to optimise media spend, and to lay the groundwork for intelligent automation, across all marketing touchpoints. Adverai Meta makes this possible, underpinned by MetaOS, a massive-scale proprietary data and machine learning platform for marketing.

As long as vendors continue to grade “their own homework”, so allowing fraudulent actors and “criminals to rip us off”, as Marc Pritchard put it, it is impossible to form a successful relationship with your media agency.

Trust, but verify worked well for Reagan’s relationship with the Soviet Union. There is no reason why it should not work well for brands in their relationships with the media agencies.


Unilever’s Keith Weed urges agencies to ‘reinvent’ themselves or risk being made redundant

Keith Weed: Buckle up marketers, the pace of change is only going to get faster

P&G issues call to arms to ad industry over ‘antiquated’ media buying

P&G’s Marc Pritchard: We are 50% of the way to cleaning up digital

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