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AdTech Reboot

Agency’s road to redemption lies in leading a “quality scale” transformation.

Judy Shapiro

Judy Shapiro

Editor-in-Chief at The Trust Web Times
Judy Shapiro

Judy Shapiro

Editor-in-Chief at The Trust Web Times

AdTech displaced “quality” in favor of “firehose quantity,” sanitized by the word “scale.” In a reversal of fortune, today the “firehose quantity” side of the business is on the run and for good reason.

In the 2000’s, agencies were profitably mastering “quality” niche marketing with “new” media like cable, direct marketing and even customized print.  

By 2014, AdTech almost wholesale displaced “quality” in favor of “quantity.” Sanitized by the word scale, Clients valued “predictable scale,” a.k.a. quantity, delivered via new tech like programmatic media and social platforms. In this “quality” versus “firehose quantity” battle, clearly the “quality” camp has been on the defensive.

The real change today is a new, emerging business models around quality scale.

In a reversal of fortune, today the “quantity” side of the business is on the run and for good reason. The collapse of many DSPs coupled with the crumbling cookie, proves that “quantity” alone can’t generate results like those from well-crafted campaigns.

This presents agencies with a rare opportunity to re-balance the quantity and quality equation of marketing into a new business model where “quality scale” can deliver both scale, precision and along with it, new agency revenue.

Agencies are the industry’s best hope for a transformation towards quality scale (and their best shot at profitable growth).  

This shift to “quality scale” centers on the artistry needed to balance both data and content while being sensitive to audiences’ digital mindset. This means an adjusted “scale” landscape with less impressions, less cookies profiles, less blind arbitrage but higher CPMs, better quality clicks and better overall business results.

The new, “quality scale” business model is achieved through agile execution, real-time intent content data and creativity with these real-world strategies:    

1) Trusted impression goals by knowing how many people a campaign will reach

A right-sized scale strategy measures real people engagement in the thousands – not millions. To scale meaningful client results, use technology to “scale” the number of high-quality albeit smaller campaigns deployed by using contextual targeting. Programmatic content marketing, for instance, is not an oxymoron and can achieve quality scale profitably.     

2) Trusted performance metrics because attribution is multi-channel and multi-topic

Performance-based compensation is not a new idea but agencies have long resisted this for good reason. But technology well-applied can help agencies add ROI value through real-time data like “instant brand polls” among digital audiences who just saw a brand ad.  Agencies gain a lot of trust when they move to a blended channel/ performance model because quality will always prove it’s worth over the long-term and long-term brand/ agency relationships are profitable relationships.     

3) Trusted operational agility that links ROI to sales conversion

Operational agility is the primary road to profitably through revenue generated by deploying more campaigns. But AdTech isn’t easy to understand and more troublesome, tech isn’t easily absorbed into agency culture. One way to tackle the problem is through deploying nextgen platforms that integrate data, execution and attribution. With one platforms, agencies are free to experiments with new elements from chatbots to attribution modeling. Consistently executed, agencies will develop diverse teams with specific expertise in monetizable disciplines.

4) Trusted user experiences  

Platforms can be creepy. They aren’t sensitive to the fine line between creepy advertising and advertising that is welcome.  Designing campaigns that merge of online with offline activities into trusted engagement experiences agency’s new revenue potential unleashed. For example, with B2B clients, “brand to demand” campaigns link trade events with online activity. Platforms can’t design a frictionless blend of media, tech and topic data into highly engaging experiences, only agencies can and this is where new profitable, revenue lies.    

Agencies missed the business opportunity during the first ad tech boom. Now is a rare second chance for agencies to stake their financial claim in the coming era of quality scale marketing. If agencies let this moment pass them by, there may never be another chance.  It’s not too late.