Agencies know more about technology than clients think
Chris Lanfear, Senior Analyst TBRI
SEP 26, 2014 01:01 AM
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Technology is no longer a "nice to have" in the agency space

The complaint about creative and ad agencies, even digitally driven ones, has been that they do not really know technology. They can design great experiences, but they have no idea how to make them work across devices — coding and digital platform experts are needed to build the foundation, plumbing and tools to bring those engaging ideas to life. However, that is changing in a big way.

Why are top agencies working toward becoming experts in platforms, analytics, tools and the underlying code that glues great experiences together? It's simple: Brands are demanding that they use the latest technology to create and manage digital assets and campaigns to maximize engagement, business results and ROI.

Recent partnerships drive technology expertise

Adobe and Publicis announced a strategic partnership around Publicis Groupe's Always-on Platform, what the companies are calling the first end-to-end marketing management platform that automates and connects all components of the client's marketing efforts. This offering uses the Adobe Marketing Cloud combined with Publicis' VivaKi ad-buying tool. Agencies across Publicis Groupe will be able to create content, access marketing intelligence, build audience segments, deliver campaigns, and track and measure marketing performance through a technology and data architecture. Publicis agencies BBH, DigitasLBi, Leo Burnett, MSLGroup, Publicis Worldwide, Razorfish, Rosetta, Saatchi & Saatchi, Startcom MediaVest Group, VivaKi and ZenithOptimedia have already committed to using the Always-on Platform going forward.

Magnolia and Etecture@Ogilvy, the ad giant's technology shop, partnered to build a version of the open-source Magnolia content management system (CMS) that is dynamically scalable, cloud-based and designed to quickly deploy and adjust for client digital marketing campaigns. The two companies put together a solution on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) platform that rapidly scales with traffic levels for microsites, product launches or any situation where demand is likely to spike or be uneven. Magnolia is built on the Java stack, easing integration with back-office systems — an increasingly critical component of any digital marketing initiative.

iCrossing and Kenshoo formed a partnership to integrate iCrossing's performance media offering and Connected Marketing Platform (CMP) with Kenshoo's cloud-based media management software. The partnership will bring together iCrossing's access to the Hearst audience platform, including data on 200 million unique visitors, to deliver an audience-based, analytics-driven search and social solution. The combined platform will also enable precision targeting, supplemental monitoring and the development of analytical tools. Kenshoo was said to be selected because of its predictive marketing software and ability to integrate with iCrossing's data sources.

Technology enables new digital experiences

Brands are becoming much more sophisticated with regard to the technologies they use. They want to create digital experiences that have never been seen, connect those experiences to other marketing tools and the back office and turn data into insights that can drive product and marketing.

An example of this is IBM Interactive Experience's work for Jaguar Land Rover that incorporates virtual reality, mobile and big data. Customers are able to build and customize a Jaguar on an iPad, selecting from all available options and features. The experience then lets the customer "enter" the car and see a 360-degree view of what they have built and make adjustments to their configuration using the iPad and Microsoft Kinect technology. Every choice drives data that is collected and processed to determine what this particular customer might buy, future product features, which cars could be most popular and even the type of marketing that will work best.

Three themes jump out from partnership announcements that tie into the broader trend:

1.      Integrated solutions: Building suite offerings is most popular with the technology major players, but highly integrated best of breed works as well. Disparate systems, segmented analytics or silos do not work.

2.      Standardization: Brands (and agencies) are increasingly looking for standard products they can scale across their organizations to smooth process friction, reduce training, ease content orchestration and simplify vendor management and support.

3.      Cloud: Marketing tools are almost all cloud-based, but a CMS is just as likely to be hosted; however, this is changing fast. Brands and agencies are finding that cloud-based solutions are excellent collaboration platforms. Content and creative can be produced, reviewed, approved, deployed and measured much faster and with better quality.

Technology Business Research, Inc. is a leading independent technology market research and consulting firm specializing in the business and financial analyses of hardware, software, professional services, telecom and enterprise network vendors, and operators. Serving a global clientele, TBR provides timely and actionable market research and business intelligence in a format that is uniquely tailored to clients' needs. Our analysts are available to further address client-specific issues or information needs on an inquiry or proprietary consulting basis.

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