An Agency Director’s Guide to Surviving the Digital Data Jungle

What’s giving agency directors headaches these days? Rising CPC costs and slimmer margins? Grim outlook for global ad spending? Ad tech startups aggressively chasing the direct-to-advertiser relationship? Perhaps, all of the above?

The truth is, things are never going to get easier for an agency marketer. But as our performance advertising industry grows more complex, agencies can find more opportunities to add value to clients. The one caveat: this will require going a lot deeper with client data.

Dustin Engel of PMG says that now is the perfect time for agencies to fill key technology gaps for brands. Engel, who heads up analytics at PMG, a digital marketing agency serving brands such as Sephora and J.Crew, recently told eMarketer that “bringing a technical acumen” will be a key point of differentiation for agencies.

CMOs and agency directors, take heed: To win in the digital performance agency world, you now don’t just offer a lower cost per lead and higher conversion; you meet your clients’ needs in automation, data blending, and cross-network audience activation. 

Agencies >> DSPs: Data Integration Needs a Trusted Partner

Why should agencies suddenly become the new analytics technology providers? What about DSPs? Existing tools, Engel argues, may offer solutions, but they lack the knowledge of the market and all the nuances of media buying.

Data by itself has little meaning. What matters is the ability to formulate the right questions and knowing where and how to extract the right answers. If agencies can solve that for their clients, a competitor’s promise of a lower CPL will never steal their business.

Integration: the Final Piece in the MarTech Jigsaw Puzzle

Top CMOs across industries see technology as the savior to key marketing challenges such as transparency and accurate attribution. Michelle Engle, VP of product marketing and management at MaxPoint, recently said to SmartBrief:

“There’s a lot of untapped possibility that, with the right focus and investment in developing powerful technology, we can unlock as an industry in 2017”

But marketers at small and large companies already have impressive technology stacks. The 2017 Marketing Technology Landscape features 5000 vendors. Obviously, adding more technology isn’t going to solve the problem. What’s next?

marketing technology landscape 2017 thumb 2

2017 Marketing Technology Landscape. Source:

The Next Frontier: Tailoring Tech to Client’s Unique Needs

“Traditional marketing and advertising technology will typically cover roughly 70% of a brand’s needs, but 30% of those are unique to the company,” Engel said. “Agencies can fill a lot of those gaps, especially in areas such as data automation, data blending, and audience activation.”

Big data has turned into a big problem for marketers who are trying to connect multiple sources: site analytics data, cross-network user acquisition data, sales, and customer scoring. One-size-fits-all solutions can’t handle the complexity of each client’s unique needs.

This is a great business opportunity for agencies, Engel argues, because no product and engineering team understands the context of media better than agency media strategists.

Agencies Can Tackle Data Tasks Better than Ad Tech Players

Agencies understand all the nuances of user acquisition and customer lifecycle. If they take on the task of activating all data sources and helping clients survive and thrive in the data jungle, they’ll get customers for life.

Going from clicks and conversions to deeper, more meaningful metrics can be daunting, but you don’t have to go it alone. It’s been our mission at AdStage to connect marketers to the data they need to understand wholistic campaign performance and take action at scale. Our Universal Data API allows to send all paid search, paid social, analytics, and CRM data from a single pipeline, unlocking actionable insights that could transform your client’s business.

If your advertising agency doesn’t already have a data integration strategy, now might be the time to start exploring one.

AdStage Team