Advertising is not what it used to be. With the growing prominence of the internet and social media in the day-to-day lives of users, its nature has changed tremendously.
Today, brands need people a lot more than people need brands.
Advertising efforts are rarely just about what a product is anymore; they are about what a brand can do for its customers and how it can add value to their lives. A list of features rarely captures emotions from its users: brands want to tell a story, they want to focus on people and problems they solve. In that sense, advertising is really about people.
While not too long ago, ad agencies would have been responsible for generating a purely creative output targeting one large audience, today, talking to the masses is no longer a feasible solution. Advertising is now a science as much as it is an art. Customers expect to be targeted based on their own interests and preferences, and to be offered the products and information that are most relevant to them.
In order to be able to provide customers with a unique experience, however, brands – and their respective advertising agencies – need to know their audiences inside and out.
Data, co-creation, and the agency-brand relationship
With all the data that customers generate from their interactions with brands online, advertisers have had to evolve from being, for the most part, creatives to being increasingly proficient data crunchers, too.
Smart data allows marketers to gain an improved understanding of the individual segments that make up a brand's target market. This knowledge can prove invaluable when creating content for advertisements - enabling professionals to target the unique interests and preferences of individual consumers.
What’s more, advertisers are increasingly encouraged to work together with their clients, the brands, and co-develop the messages for the end customers. Advertising has become a much more open process, where collaboration is not only encouraged, but often also necessary for achieving well-rounded business results.
For the agency-brand dynamic to flourish in the long run, it needs to be based on effective communication, often even in the very early stages of the ideation process. After all, no one is more familiar with the nuances of a brand than the people behind it. An ongoing conversation with a client does not only give agencies an inside view of the brand, but also the opportunity to exchange relevant data that both sides can use to drive the advertising efforts forward.
Having the right conversation with the right people
Nowadays, the main challenge for brands and their ad agencies is to be able to deliver real value in real time, while often creating a highly personalized experience for the customer. No question, this wouldn’t even be remotely possible without the help of smart data. Having a real return on investment takes thoughtful planning, clear advertising goals and thorough tracking of every advertising channel.
From an agency perspective, the process of client leadership gets messier but more data-driven - and this is something we all should be aiming towards. After all, we all differ in taste, experience and overall world view (don't get us started on politics, religion or sports!) - but a clean data set mostly speaks for itself. Once you have the right data at hand, answering your most important advertising questions and achieving your marketing goals is a straightforward process.
Brands need to have extensive, multi-layered information to be able to hold the right conversations with the right people. At the right time, too. In this context, what smart data can provide is precision, and precision can help minimize the advertising efforts (hence business expenses) towards people who are unlikely to respond. It is the foundation that strong client-agency relations are built upon.
The bottom line? Data has the potential to generate valuable leads, which advertising agencies can act upon and convert into paying, hopefully recurring customers for the business. In other words, data is what keeps the healthy balance between agencies’ advertising efforts and the business success of the brands behind them.
Do you have any first-hand impression from working in an agency-brand dynamic? We’d love to hear from you!