Make digital the new normal to sort out our image problem

Paul Frampton: managing director at Havas Media
Paul Frampton: managing director at Havas Media

Every media agency will tell you their services are undervalued and they are tired with the shackled definition of media "buyer". Most now spend a material amount of time discussing strategies not involving paid media.

If you had flown down from Mars, you might define today’s media agencies more as communications consultants. We have diversified and our revenues are now increasingly made up of non-media services, but clients don’t see it this way. Why?

My take is that it is a perception problem and we have some deep-rooted issues as an industry. If we can’t change that, then we leave the door open for classic management consultants to take ownership of what is an increasingly data-driven and connected ecosystem.

2013 should be a year when the word "digital" is dropped. Digital is the new normal and the days of digital planners and strategists are numbered. Every department in an agency should be doing digital; planners should be planning it, buyers should be buying it.

There are still two types of people – those who blag their way through digital and those who genuinely embrace it, and the former are holding back their agency and the delivery of truly integrated planning.

Too many agencies still place their real-time bidding, mobile, search and data teams in separate buildings to their planning and strategic fraternity. Any planning framework without digital insight baked in is out of date. Any strategy team without content and data skills will struggle.

Data (for which read "insight") is the number-one priority for both chief marketing officers and chief executives in 2013, yet how many media agencies have a clear strategy for integrating data into their day-to-day planning?

As a result, too many of the planning fraternity have failed to realise that digital is the door to greater understanding of the consumer. Through this human understanding, it’s about time that agencies starteto build bespoke process and tools designed around how their clients work.

Our "meaningful brands" positioning is all about identifying and amplifying the different nuances of meaning (and thus value) that a brand has to different audience groups.

The alliance of first-party and third-party data is gold dust for forecasting the behavioural patterns of these audiences. Today, this can easily be fed into a targeted programmatic model or a content strategy catering for multiple audience segments. In doing so, we create a scalable, efficient model where value can easily be identified.

If media agencies want to end the year being viewed more like consultants, two things need to happen. Siloes must be eradicated and we need to transparently demonstrate how and where value is created in what we do.

Paul Frampton is the managing director at Havas Media

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