Best Media Planning and Buying: Havas Digital

Trading up

Transforming the way agencies plan, buy and manage online ad inventory, Havas Digital is making the practice far more dynamic, and analogous to the way Wall Street trades equities, commodities and options. (But don’t worry, they know what they’re doing.)

The agency’s new “virtual brand network” — so-called by its global CEO Don Epperson — allows the agency to plan, buy and manage online inventory based on its worth to individual advertisers over time.

“The way this agency looks now is drastically different than it did four years ago,” says Adam Kasper, senior vice president and director of digital media at Havas Digital’s Media Contacts. “This is the next evolution and the future of the agency model, and we’ve got it today.”

The key to Havas’ system is its position between marketers and suppliers who provide them with proprietary insights, which enables the system to identify the underlying value specific online inventory has for a particular advertiser.

By leveraging those unique customer insights along with performance data from publishers, networks and other third parties, Havas has created a dynamic online ad trading system that separates audiences from publishing content, and it makes user profile and unique cookie data king, rather than the inventory a publisher serves.

The core of Havas Digital’s virtual brand network is its Artemis database management and reporting system, which has already profiled more than one-third of the world’s online population. That and the agency’s Adnetik system help deliver customized roi analytics for media buying.

“Artemis is the central piece of our media buying offering,” Kasper says. “Its importance has only grown as the technology has improved.”Coupled with proprietary algorithms, that database has allowed the agency to
develop systems that draw on data from third parties, including clients, publishers and networks, that helps it understand which audiences command the most value at a particular time for specific brands.

“The buying transaction of physically doing it over the phone won’t go away, but it’s become a less central piece of the process because we now have the ability to buy a large share of media through exchanges,” Kasper says. “This is not just CMP for an aggregate audience; we are buying on a CMP basis on an individual basis.”

Working with clients such as Fidelity and Citizen Bank, Havas Digital’s virtual brand network helps automatically recognize when valuations shift, and then seamlessly reallocate audiences from one client to another.

But, Kasper says, as technical as the network might seem, humans are still the engine that drives the agency. “It’s not like we set it and forget it,” he says. “We are very intimately involved in all the data being processed.”
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