Hey! Mr agency guy, go beyond the brief, be my partner, say marketers

Marketers say that they want agency partners to solve business problems and go beyond conventional media buying services.

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Oct 5, 2018 9:00 AM

Clients want more from their media agencies than ever before. A competitive and dynamic market where customers are not falling for push advertising has put pressure on brands to master and deliver effective advertising communication that informs and educates the consumer. This demands incisive insights on consumer behaviour to create relevant campaigns to catch the consumer at the right moments.

Businesses are opting to transform their marketing processes for a digital ecosystem where an omni-channel approach that leads with personalisation is taking precedence over traditional targeting. This new world order requires agencies to reinvent themselves for brands.

Some marketers exchange4media spoke to said they want agency partners to solve business problems and go beyond conventional media buying services. Kashyap Vadapalli, Chief Marketing Officer, Pefferfry.com, says, “Agencies we have been working with do a good job of delivering to the brief. What we are looking for now is the media agency’s input in terms of solving business problems like what is the next market we need to go for.”

Vadapalli said that this need to source business solutions from agencies is especially needed in shaping marketing communication for new markets. “Obviously, we have a sense of this because we are in the business, but it can be in terms of helping us understand what should we do differently in media to target the new markets. We get performance to a brief of a fairly good quality, but what we are looking for is consulting in terms of ideas for approaching new markets and new sources of gain,” he said.

In a media landscape that is being overtaken by programmatic buying, agencies need to don a consultancy role, a study has found. The study by Forrester found that CMOs see media as a significant opportunity to drive personalization, commerce, and growth. “CMOs constantly scrutinize the global media market for higher levels of accountability, additional performance capabilities, and total transparency — not just buying power,” says Jay Pattisall, principal analyst at Forrester and author of the report.

Commoditization of media offerings has lead to a devaluation of digital media and planning capabilities in particular. “The solutions that agencies are dishing out these days are standard solutions layered with a minor customisation for a brand. Other than the minor customisation, the solution is given without understanding the business aspect of the brands,” points out Mayank Shah, Category Head, Parle Products. He added that it is very important that the agency understands the client’s business. Instead, agencies are approaching brands with the intention of selling something rather than offering a thought-through and worked-upon solution for the brand.

A handful of brands have the agency team sitting alongside the brand team to work on campaigns. But marketers feel that lack of such a set-up should not stop agency teams from becoming an integral part of the brand team. “My dream as a marketer is to get my agency’s creatives, media, sponsorships, etc to talk to each other. I also want my agency to be a part of my extended team rather than the two working as separate entities,” said Mansi Narasimhan, VP
Marketing and Communications Area Marketing, Mastercard. She too said that what she looks for in an agency is a partner who understands the brand’s business problems. “I would like for my agency to be integrated and aligned with the goals and objectives of my business.”

What the marketer now also wants is for the agency to analyse data and extract simple useable insights. Amit Tiwari, VP Marketing, Havells, said that in an ecosystem where every agency has proprietary tools, it would be good to see the agencies use them to give insights from the data they have. He strongly felt that the role of the agency now has to be more participative than consultative. “Clients want a recommendation backed by logic and conviction - this is the dire need today,” he added.

In some cases, marketers also want to be challenged by their agency partners and even aid with media strategies across platforms. Tiwari said, “A brief is just a piece of paper that tells an agency what the operating framework of the brand is. We want the agency to start approaching the brand problem from a macro perspective on every medium.”

Tiwari said he wants a media agnostic recommendation from agencies. “Please challenge us,” he said, adding “we want recommendations on what the agency believes the client must do irrespective of whether the client agrees or not.” He said that if an idea is backed by solid logic and data, the client will support a recommendation from the agency.

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