Commentary

Almighty Leads The Way To A New Hybrid Model: Transparency, Ad-Tech Integration & Data

Now here’s something rather refreshing. A media agency vet has struck out on his own to form an independent Boston-based shop called Almighty(X). Almighty is a digital agency that was founded in 2005--Rob Griffin, formerly of Havas--recently became Almighty's chief innovation officer and is building Almighty(X), a new unit.

It’s not unusual for agency vets to break away from the traditional agency model. What is unusual is this boutique’s focus. Almighty(X) will consult with clients to help them assess their ad-tech stacks, determine which partners and tech are right for them, manage  tech integration issues, identify where ROI is coming from and optimize ad tech and media investments. The goal: to help clients get more for their working media and ad-tech investments.

Griffin served in a variety of roles at Havas for years. If anyone understands the challenges facing marketers with respect to programmatic media, ad-tech integrations, the transparency issues between agencies and clients and much more, it’s Griffin. And the agency has already received a ton of coverage from MediaPost and other outlets.

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Griffin, a super-charged force of nature, calls it like it is—and, he believes in transparency. In his view, transparency involves enabling advertisers to own their own data and technology and educating them about campaign performance, optimization and ROI.

Almighty is based on a hybrid model:a combo consultancy and agency, that will have advertisers owning their own data, tech and paying the bills. Griffin maintains that agency trading desks offer managed services on top of a managed service already offered by DSPs. Agency trading desks mark these services up and pay themselves. The difference with Almighty is that the firm is trying to reduce hidden and redundant costs, tracking—and sharing—where  dollars are being spent.

Griffin says that when marketers own their own data, he can help them with more than their paid media—he can also ensure that data is shared cross-platform.

When I spoke with Griffin a couple of weeks ago prior to MediaPost’s Programmatic Insider Summit, he said that while agency trading desks can manage advertisers’ in-house teams, “they will never know everything.”

Griffin went much further: “Agency media trading desks aren’t built to deal with problems, just to buy more media! It’s more than doing paid media. It’s about personalization and scale. It’s about where people go after seeing the creative. You have to focus on optimizing landing pages for programmatic media and site design.”

Almighty will focus squarely on transparent, agnostic media technology. In addition, “We want to focus on creative innovation, content and creative messaging,” he said. Currently, Griffin said, “Marketers aren’t applying the right creative to programmatic and aren’t trusting their agencies. There’s tons of confusion in the market.”

With respect to transparency, he told AdExchanger, “The problem isn’t that [rebates and kickbacks] are occurring. It’s that no one knows if they are or aren’t occurring, or at what rate. If an ad tech company offers an agency rebates based on their level of spend, they should take the money. What I want to do is have a transparent conversation with the advertiser. I’ll fully disclose the revenue I’m generating from this up to X number because that’s the money I need to be able to work on your business. Anything above that I’ll give it back to you to put into creative production, toward your DMP, into media, CRM, or whatever you want to do with it.”

It seems Almighty is an idea whose time has come.

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