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The role of the media agency as a strategic media partner is clear and remains
Posted on MAR 2012
The role of the media agency as a strategic media partner is clear and remains

Media channels are proliferating, devices are multiplying and audiences are becoming more and more fragmented. No, this is not the familiar description of the Middle East Media scene, but one that we all live and breathe daily: our own agency landscape.

Gone are the days of Mad Men where things were simpler in structure and resources, today media agencies not only need to keep up with media as it evolves, but also technoogy as it revamps our processes, procedures and thinking.

The challenge for media agencies is to find an approach that marries the management of media channels evolution and technology enablement so that it positively impacts the business environment and acts as an accelerator of business success.

Harnessing the power of technology can be a game changer in all areas from making media planning and buying operations work more efficiently to improving better communication and work- flow processes. The role of technology in today’s business is fundamental and has to be part of the agency’s business plan.

The media agency of the future will offer a combination of services across investment planning, communication planning, consultancy, technology provider/facilitator and content publishing. Technology will have a major part to play in every area of their offering and in some cases will be a key differentiator.

Usually when we think of technology in our industry, we are thinking about the latest tech platforms or marketing dashboards, and how to master it according to a number of devices. We must remember that technology - in the form of hardware, software, and integrated systems that aggregate data - is not something we use purely as avenues to connect with consumers.

So how can agencies approach technology advancement s to make a positive business impact both internally across business operations and externally, i.e. client’s media investment?

Well, the first step is to have a vision on what technology can do for your business. Carry out an audit with a clear outcome of what the media agency of the future should look like, what are your best people spending time on? If you find that it’s not strategy and client servicing, but endless hours of data entry and repetitive non-essential tasks, then something is wrong.

Taking this limited view of technology will impede media agencies from fully utilizing the tools that are out there to improve internal efficiency and campaign effectiveness. Here is a look at four key areas where marketing companies will need to use technology to stay ahead of the curve.

First of all, agencies must fully understand and implement the latest tools for media buying and trading. The media buying and trading instruments available to our market are improving every day. It's not quite the Wall Street trading floor yet, but with the rapid technological advancements, the comparison is becoming more and more appropriate. The rise of demand side platforms (DSPs) that enables advertisers to buy digital inventory through an online ad exchange will spread to print, outdoor and TV in one form or another.

Part of the process of media buying should be automated, bringing us to our second point; if a tool or some sort of automation can perform a task that takes up precious time, it is foolish not to use it based on a favorable cost benefit analysis. The sheer volume of data and tasks involved in any marketing campaign can be breathtaking. That being the case, any software solutions to automate the process of collecting, managing, and analyzing consumer data must be taken advantage of.

Automation is especially critical in the area of data technology, our third focal point. The number of data points being collected on consumers is increasing all the time. In order to use this data productively, it must be managed effectively.

At present there are several data management systems that are often operated independently of each other, which include your web analytics tool, traditional media buying tool, your social media monitoring tool, customer feedback and surveys, and your marketing campaign automation tool. With the right management platform, data collected through these tools can be compiled into one integrated system. This will provide a clear overview of the consumer landscape and which target audiences are active where, thereby helping manage a campaign.

None of the three points above mean anything if an agency isn't willing to constantly adapt to the best technology.

The phrase "change management" is often used to describe how to handle these constant adaptations. I believe that there is no formula for a transition from one marketing strategy to another, or from one technological platform to another. A drive to use technology should be led by the management’s vision and be a cultural change advocated at all levels of the agency hierarchy.

An Agency may very well be successful today, but remaining alert and up-to-date is key to survival in an industry defined by tomorrow.

The future of media and technology is in the hands of tech savvy, solution based visionaries.

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