Commentary

Who's On First? The Chaos Of Marketing In The Digital Age

As a marketer, you connect consumers to your brand, so you manage creative and messaging. To reach consumers, you manage different marketing channels. To return your investments, you measure performance by channel. To protect your brand and your consumers, you manage data and privacy. And, to enable it all, you adopt technology. Then, you optimize and prioritize. 

Do you enlist the help of partners? Do you do it all yourself in-house? To figure it out, you have to understand who is on the field. And, by their names, you don’t always know what position they play. If you understand their position, you can uncover their respective pros and cons and put together the right team to field.

Who’s on First

Billy Beane and Major League Baseball threw out tradition and won, based on odds and mathematics. Marketers now realize they need to do the same, so they often start here. So, data-driven or analytics-oriented agencies, a popular choice, start with data and have deep understanding of the technology that drives decision-making. Their solutions start with data infrastructure and their answers come from what you can measure. Can they see the big picture?

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What’s on Second

Technology-first is another way to go. If a marketer reaches out into the landscape by starting with a technology ask, then a technology solution is what they’ll get. “We need an agency that knows [insert software name here].” People who know how to implement specific technology don’t always speak a marketer’s or a consumer’s language.

I Don’t Know is on Third

Need a high-level strategy that is channel agnostic because you don’t have a handle on your mix? There are a few ways to tackle that, each with their pitfalls.

Consulting firms are theory-based and end state. They can see the big picture, but don’t typically understand what it takes to get from Point A to Point B because they tend to “propose” more and “do” less.  

Holding companies own agencies and can try to compile a solution from their portfolio of agencies. But, they are often reliant on global software agreements with potential kickbacks or own multiple levels of the advertising supply chain. 

Why is in Left Field

Holding company-owned agencies are typically siloed into swim lanes, shuttle work to the bottom of the pyramid to hit profitability targets, and may avoid connecting the parts. They can have scale and geographic reach, but lose integration and magnification.

Tactical agencies (such as a search agency or a social agency)are isolated, independent tacticians, they get one thing done and have a hard time with the relationships between tactics. You have to decide channel allocation and get the independent players to work together. 

Because is in Center Field

In-house agencies are different players. As a client, you can build your own team of experts that provide great integration and personalization, but they quickly lose external perspective, as well as often see far fewer reps as an agency or service-provider might.

Tomorrow throws to Today

The nightmare scenario is when working parts function independently and expensively without providing external client value. If you introduce a product to a company, and an employee buys it in-store and online, the struggle is tracing that first touch. 

The GM and Coach need to be on the same page

Just as Beane discovered baseball’s myths, increased his win rate, and kept his expenses low, marketers constantly try to maximize effectiveness and return on investment. It is a balance of in-house management with the right tools and partners to get the job done. Understanding who is in the field makes all the difference.

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