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ARTICLE

4A’s Decisions 2020: To Be a Better Partner, You Must Partner Better

April 9, 2019 — by Lars Feely

We heard the call for agencies to “evolve” at Decisions 2020 two weeks ago (and in the media coverage around it), just as we’ve heard it from Marc Pritchard and other industry leaders in recent years. We know our agency partners must be exhausted over their growing “To-Do” list of things to improve upon—be more transparent, deep-dive into data and insights, give up and just go home because all brands are just going to in-house eventually anyway.

Phew. It’s a lot.

Here’s the thing—just as brands need the right consultative partners across the spectrum, so do agencies. This stuff ain’t easy—the technical part of it, new tools, new channels, plus keeping on top of industry shifts, privacy laws, consolidation. We all need help. We need each other.

To our agency friends, we’re asking to help us help you.

Almost a year ago, we started building a new Global Partnerships team focused on accelerating the success of our key partnerships to achieve client outcomes. “Partnerships” can mean many things, but in our world, it focuses on our relationships with agencies whom we sell both to and with like Havas, major business channels through which we sell our technology, such as IBM, and consultancies like McKinsey. Across these groups, we aim to continue to provide solutions around data, identity, supply and optimization and build bespoke, joint products to drive outcomes for their client base, just as we do for our brand clients.

And what about this whole in-housing thing? Funny you ask, because we put out a whole playbook on it nine months ago. As a technology company that serves both brands and agencies, we know that “full” in-housing is currently uncommon and tough to accomplish. The operational complexity of media buying often makes the scaled and specialized workforce of an agency a requirement, and institutional knowledge also benefits the agency’s clients. In fact, we have identified four models for brands that want to take more control of their tech, and agencies play a major role in three of the four. One of those three models is what we like to call a “triangulation” (or “Happy Commune” in our playbook) in which brand + agency + tech partner have an equal seat at the table in driving strategy and operations.

And more research is on the way. We are excited that our very own Head of Global Partnerships Jim Sink was interviewed for a whitepaper the 4A’s and 614 Group are putting out on programmatic best practices later this quarter. We anticipate that this paper will share critical insights on the interplay between tech and talent and how brands and agencies can best partner to drive success.

To recap:

  • Yes, agencies have a lot of work to do, but they can get by with a little help from their friends
  • In-housing is happening, but not without the help of agencies
  • Inform yourself with the latest insights and research from industry subject matter experts to guide your partnership approach

Partner on, friends.