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When Agencies and Tech Partner, the Brands Succeed

by Amobee, March 16, 2016

At the same time that programmatic technology is completely reshaping the business of marketing, it is also fundamentally disrupting how brands, agencies and technology providers work together. While some may fear this change, I’m seeing a lot of my colleagues in the industry getting very smart about making these partnerships work.

There have been a lot of media stories about the tensions between agencies and technology companies, especially as relationships with trading desks shift and more brands seek direct connections to their technology. Some agencies embrace this change, and I firmly believe that these are the agencies that are going to win. They’re digging into technology on behalf of clients who ask them to get smart about this stuff. When it actually comes together, it’s good for the agency, it’s good for the technology, and it’s good for the brand – a true partnership model where each player has a stake in a successful outcome.

As the decentralization of buying away from trading desks continues, agencies have to roll up their sleeves and get smart on programmatic. When that true three-way partnership comes together, it’s very, very powerful. We can innovate, we can scale, and we can learn together. We can push each other; they make Turn better, Turn makes them better. The keys to success are the same as with any good partnership – each player has a clear role and a clear contribution, and a strong incentive to achieve a successful outcome of the partnership.

Essence, for example, has emerged as an agency that is built around programmatic and deep technical knowledge. While they work with multiple programmatic platforms, they also understand the value in consolidating spend through one omnichannel platform. They are flexible in using the right tool for the right job, and it’s been rewarding to work with them.

Similarly, partners like Kraft Heinz and Starcom innovate as much as we do in terms of how we work together. One of the most rewarding things for me personally was to hear Bob Rupczynski from Kraft Heinz talk about the value Turn provides because our team actually pushes back, saying, “We get what you want to do, but there’s actually a better way to do it.” He values this because he learns in the process, and we do too.

The other critical piece of this partnership: Starcom is really leaning in and getting smart about the tech. They are deeply informed about and connected with our technology, and have demonstrated time and again what a central and valuable role they play in making this partnership work. Tracey Paull is an agency leader with a deep understanding of how to leverage programmatic to deliver value, and she and Bob both push us to deliver more and more insights out of our platform.

Another great example of an agency embracing and building strong relationships with technology is Saatchi. In our recent work with them, we witnessed the extremely thorough and thoughtful technology evaluation process they undertook on behalf of their client. They invested in educating themselves and getting smart internally to be a resource on behalf of the brand.

Turn is fundamentally a technology company but, at the end of the day, programmatic is people-powered and we are at a stage as an industry where we need to provide services along with our technology. The growing scope and scale in talent and expertise in our market encourages me; talent circulating between agencies, DSPs, trading desks and the client side can only benefit everyone in the long run.

Customers are leaning in, getting smart and making technology decisions in partnership with their agencies. Very few brands will ultimately bring all programmatic technology “in house” and operate it themselves, but every brand will bring some aspect in house. That may only be tech evaluation or contracting a data management platform – “in house” can mean a variety of things. But the key point is that brands and agencies both are deeply embracing the technology and building up their own technical knowledge, which makes for extremely strong partnerships.

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