Head of Analytics and Data Activation
Gone are the days when agencies could rely solely on ideas. Their clients now expect data to be part of their DNA, and some agencies are even going so far as to provide their own set of analytics tools to customers. Dustin Engel, head of analytics and data activation at digital marketing agency PMG, spoke with eMarketer’s Maria Minsker about how agencies can fill key technology gaps for brands.
eMarketer: Why are agencies increasingly having to think like marketing and ad tech providers?
Dustin Engel: Traditional marketing and advertising technology will typically cover roughly 70% of a brand’s needs, but 30% of those needs are unique to the company. Marketing and ad tech providers build products for the widest population possible, which means those unique needs might not be met. Agencies can fill a lot of those gaps, especially in areas such as data automation, data blending and audience activation.
“The advantage agencies have is that they understand the context of media planning.”
eMarketer: What kinds of data analytics can an agency provide?
Engel: It depends on the agency, but our data infrastructure, for example, can process about 35 different data sources per client. These include front-end data sources like analytics platforms, ad servers and media buying engines as well as back-office data, sales data and customer scoring. We’ve been able to bring these sources together so that our clients can make decisions based on external sources, as well as their own data.
There are DMPs [data management platforms] that can do this as well, but the biggest challenge advertisers have with them is that it’s hard to get data out of their CRM [customer relationship management] systems and operationalize the transfer of that information. Existing tools create a lot of friction, which gives agencies a unique opportunity to step in.
eMarketer: What are the advantages of agencies taking on these data tasks, vs. traditional ad tech players?
Engel: The advantage agencies have is that they understand the context of media planning. A lot of marketing and ad tech companies are started by engineers, which means they’re very product-minded. They may create products that work, but miss some of the nuances that come with media planning. Agencies, on the other hand, are in the trenches, so their perspective is different.
“When an agency comes in and says it can activate all those data sources, the lightbulbs turn on for brands.”
eMarketer: Are clients open to the idea of agencies providing them with analytics tools?
Engel: Marketers and advertisers are sitting on massive silos of data, which they’re asked to provide value against. When an agency comes in and says it can activate all those data sources, the lightbulbs turn on for brands, so they’re definitely open to it. It might be different from how the brand has operated in the past, but if they come across an agency and technology provider rolled into one, they see the potential to move faster and be more agile.
eMarketer: Are enough agencies providing analytics and data tools to clients?
Engel: More and more independent agencies are approaching the world with this mindset. They’re bringing more technical acumen to the equation, and it’s a key point of differentiation for them.