By Hasan Arik, Founder and CEO, Redmill Solutions
In a world where few things are predictable, the discussion around media in-housing can be relied upon to be a regular agenda item. Setting up in-house agency functions is nothing new; the debate was raging over a century ago and the 15% commission system was introduced largely to discourage it. But it has now been reinvigorated by recent micro and macro environmental challenges.
There is debate around whether some advertisers should be essentially building some form of in-house media agency, particularly for the activation of their digital campaigns. Digital campaigns are an obvious in-housing opportunity because there are only a few global media partners, so having contracts with thousands of local media owners is not required. But, whatever aspects brands decide to bring in-house, all brands — especially multi-market and multi-brand companies with more complex media ecosystems — should in-house their media data.
Home Sweet Home
Data is usually at the core of every decision a brand makes and this is no different for media decisions. In the information age we live in, media data is a valuable asset that should be owned — in-house — by the brand advertisers that actually make the media investments. Before we look at what steps brands should take to successfully in-house their media data, let’s start by exploring the benefits media data ownership can bring.
In-housing media data gives companies key advantages from the increased visibility they will gain; it allows brands to access more of their data, faster thanks to greater control. The timely access to reporting allows for financial agility, with committed and planned spend better accounted for. It also allows for improved analysis of planned spend versus actual spend, historical benchmarks and baselines and creates a feed for ROI studies and alignment across other data sets.
Let’s take fast access to detailed post-campaign media spend and performance data for example. Being able to analyse this data in-house and discuss it with their agency as soon as possible after activity gives brands the ability to track media deal delivery and make timely course corrections if required. This presents a very different solution to the traditional “post-mortem” of an annual media audit.
Best practice and ‘outlier’ strategies can also be better tracked, while cross-market investment opportunities can be more easily identified.
In terms of portability and continuity, in-housing media data makes it easier to onboard new agencies, who will instantly have access to the latest data details needed to start work. In summary, in-housing media data not only allows better data access and smoother workflow but critically, better investment control.
Laying The Foundations
Brands convinced by these benefits and considering in-housing their media data should keep in mind that the aim of this process should always be to increase operational efficiency and ROI in the long term but there are several steps to take to reach this point.
Importantly, there is no one size fits all solution; successful in-housing of this data will require a strategic design and framework specific for each advertiser and this will need some thoughtful planning — particularly around identifying what data is required, why it’s required and the taxonomy and hierarchies that will be used to organise it.
A thorough data audit should be first on the agenda; a brand needs to find out where data is currently held, in what formats, exactly what it is and what its use is. From here, an effective and future-proofed data strategy can start to be constructed.
Determining what level of media data control is required and finding what capabilities need to be expanded are the bedrock of a framework to help advertisers move towards media data ownership. Brand owners should also revisit media governance programmes, ensuring that these are able to evolve as priorities change, with data-driven KPIs driving decision making.
Consideration should be given to the pace and scope of any data management project. Perhaps start with media planning data; and maybe just for a handful of key markets too as a pilot to learn from and to bring alignment with key stakeholders.
Ultimately, the goal of in-housing media data is to build a single source of media truth; a reliable hub where all global media data can be kept, analysed and utilised, helping to better inform all media investment decisions a brand or advertiser makes.
As the debate continues over the creation of in-house media agencies, the decision to in-house media data should be a no-brainer for global brands; gaining more control, faster insights and more reliable data will undoubtedly increase operational efficiency and ultimately, ROI.