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A Complicated Marketplace Needs a Smart Managed Service Provider

A managed service approach can take away much of the heavy lifting from a brand CMO or an agency Media Director.

The digital media industry, including both brand marketing departments and ad agencies, is currently at a crossroads. They’re faced with navigating two increasingly divergent trends.

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On one path are companies looking to gain more control of spend, speed, activation of their CRM, and pursuit of efficiencies by bringing media execution in-house. Doing so allows them to own the contracts, gain greater transparency, deal with less middleware and utilize many automated self-serve tools to execute towards brand/business goals.

On the other is an increasingly complex and fluid advertising landscape, where marketers with plenty of sophistication but not unlimited resources, need to evaluate and maximize media spend and engagement rapidly, as the ground shifts beneath them due to changes like Apple’s new privacy protection at the device level and the end of the third-party cookie coming early next year.

Self-service media-buying tools are terrific at providing a cost-effective solution along with greater control of performance, reporting, and speed to adjust and iterate. However, this often creates an oversimplified perception of a turn-key solution that doesn’t always work for everyone.

What often gets left out of the discussion is that these tools are only as good as the talented and experienced people leveraging them…to onboard first party data, test and learn, maximize ROI, drive audience engagement and ultimately, business outcomes.

However, there are many marketers and media directors, throughout the US, that are discovering that that talent and experience is in short supply.

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Finding and retaining “A Players” that have both a true grasp on the technology, the various platforms AND can clearly communicate challenges and recommendations…is easier said than done. Further, once you’ve found and/or trained that talent, the battle is not over. There is a risk that your “A Player” will be recruited to a large agency or brand in any major market. As a result, they can leave behind a media team or agency without the knowledge base to vet new advertising platforms, let alone do the time-intensive and costly stack development.

A managed service approach can take away much of the heavy lifting from a brand CMO or an agency Media Director. Many managed service providers are already evolving into consultants (at least the good ones are)….and educating brands and agencies on what the future holds. The end of the cookie is a perfect example of that. The solutions will become more fragmented in a years time, thus many marketers are seeking education and advice on how it will impact targeting, attribution and increase their reliance on analytics, and they want to know what they should be doing now to best prepare.

 

Because managed service providers are platform-agnostic, they can offer unbiased advice on which of the alternatives being developed by leading DSPs and identity solutions providers will work best for their particular brand and their specific marketing objectives.

 

Further, a strong managed service provider will also help marketing teams to detach and step back, to take a broader look at every advertising platform, channel and point solution going forward. In addition to helping brands develop an agnostic, data-driven, business results approach, managed service providers can leverage existing relationships throughout the advertising ecosystem so that a brand or agency can dip their toes into new opportunities without having to commit to just one partner, platform, or network. For example, with managed services, marketers can more effectively test and evaluate multiple DSPs, point solutions or new channels and determine whether they are delivering the audience and ROI that drives the company’s bottom line. This is particularly important as so many platforms and publishers now battle to claim credit for every successful conversion.

 

Again, one of the biggest allures of engaging with an automated in-house media service is the feeling of control. But that can be sometimes a case of being penny-wise and pound-foolish as the brand team or agency quickly discovers that “in-housing” requires a large team of “hand-on-keyboard” experts to execute well and find success. Further, managed services are also becoming increasingly more adept at providing hybrid solutions, both in pricing models and in the ability to protect and maximize their first-party data that will become of even more value in the cookieless future.

 

As for affordability, the best managed service providers can find solutions that match the size of the brand, as well as their budgets and marketing goals. That means there are few, if any, marketing teams or agencies too small to really gain perspective and value from the right managed service provider.

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Given the challenges for marketers, most notably the future of programmatic digital programs in what soon could be a cookieless world, managed services may be the right bridge to the future for many brands and agencies. With so many new tools and platforms on the horizon, the key becomes finding the right managed service provider that can deliver objective analytics and facilitate campaign executions while allowing marketers to remain focused on what really matters–driving sales and building market share.

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