Jay Friedman is a nationally recognized and accomplished digital media expert, speaker, and author. You will often find him speaking at conferences, writing for lead publications, websites, and books. He recently authored the incredibly well written, information packed 7th edition of “Thirty Days to PAID Digital Media Expertise.” He is, without question, a well-versed expert on digital media and programmatic buying.
In 2006, Jay joined Goodway Group to launch the digital division. Now in 2015, Goodway has more than 200 clients across the country.
What you’ll learn about in this episode:
- Programmatic buying: what is it?
- Why programmatic buying is much more effective than traditional ad buying models
- How to know whether to bring programmatic buying in-house or work with a partner and rules for both options
- Jay’s action plan for jumping into programmatic
- Why programmatic partners have to continually educate their agencies
- The qualities that the agencies that do programmatic well all have in common
- How agencies can succeed by adapting the Airbnb and the Uber model
- What agencies need to do to be good partners to their programmatic partners
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- Email: [email protected]
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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Hey, everybody Drew McLellan here. Before we jump into the episode you are about to listen to, I wanted to make sure that you knew that we are doing open mic webinars and they are available to anyone in the world, just head over to the Agency Management Institute.com/ask Drew, and you will see the dates and times for this month and next month. And we’ll talk about anything you want to talk about – agency operations, COVID, whatever it is that is on your mind. I’m happy to answer your questions and everyone else on the call shares as well as asks questions. So it’s really a round-robin of learning for everybody. All right. I’d love to have you there. All you have to do is register. You can attend live, or just get the replay after we record it. Okay. Now here’s that music that you know and love.
Speaker 2 (00:51):
If you’re going to take the risk of running an agency, shouldn’t you get the benefits too? Welcome to Agency Management Institute’s Build A Better Agency podcast presented by HubSpot. We’ll show you how to build an agency that can scale and grow with better clients, invested employees, and best of all, more money to the bottom line. Bringing his 25 plus years of experience as both an agency owner and agency consultant to you, please welcome your host, Drew McLellan.
Speaker 1 (01:24):
Hey, everybody Drew McLellan here. Welcome to another episode of Build A Better Agency. I am excited today to chat with you and to bring to you, Jay Friedman. Jay is going to talk to us about programmatic buying and real-time bidding in the digital paid media space. But before we get there, I just want to remind all of you that the reason I’m doing this is like you, I still own my agency. I’ve been doing that for about 20 years. And I also run Agency Management Institute where I get to work with over 200 small to midsize agency owners every year, helping them both mitigate the risk of owning an agency and hopefully maximizing the rewards that can come with owning an agency. And really I’m starting this podcast because I want to be able to extend that work beyond the folks that I get to work with face to face. And so, it’s my privilege to bring different experts to the podcast, to talk about issues and topics that I know as agency owners and leaders in an agency you are hungry to learn more about, which is exactly why Jay is here with us today.
Speaker 1 (02:21):
So in 2006, Jay joined The Goodway Group, which back then was a print driven marketing and promotions company. He was hired specifically to launch the digital division of that company. So the owner saw the writing on the wall, knew that they needed to evolve their business, as many of us have talked about, and brought Jay in to do that In 2010, Goodway, served its last print customer and decided to completely focus on the digital side of the business. Fast forward to 2015, Goodway has more than 200 clients and works with many agencies big and small across the country, as well as some clients direct. Has, I believe, over 260 employees, which fascinatingly enough is almost all completely virtual so they are scattered all over the country. Jay is one of the leaders in the programmatic and real-time bidding paid media space.
Speaker 1 (03:16):
Jay is an expert in this arena and is also very generous with his time, as you will experience during this podcast and sharing his expertise with others in the industry. He certainly is a nationally recognized and accomplished expert and speaker, writer, and author. You’ll find him often at some top industry conferences, writing for lead industry publications and websites, and he’s even written some books. Some of his latest books are the seventh edition of 30 days to Pay Digital Media Expertise. And that book, by the way, comes with a companion guide specifically written for agency owners and also 30 Days to Mobile Marketing Expertise. So with all of that, Jay, welcome to the podcast.
Thank you so much, Drew. It’s a pleasure to be here.
It’s great to have you, so, you know, as strange as it is in 2015, I know that there are a lot of agency owners that are still sort of wrestling with the digital media piece. So when they hear phrases like programmatic buying or real-time bidding, I think sometimes it sounds a little bit like, you know, the Snoopy and Charlie Brown teacher saying waaa, waaa, waaa, waaa. So give us a basic definition of what we’re talking about when we’re talking about those things.
Speaker 3 (04:27):
Yeah. Programmatic, like you said, gets a real scared reaction from a lot of people based on a lot of misinformation, but it very simply put is a set of technologies that automates the buying placement and optimization of media.
Speaker 1 (04:43):
Okay. And real-time bidding is tied to that house.
Speaker 3 (04:47):
So real-time bidding is a subset of programmatic. Um, programmatic in and of itself is again, just an automation of what we’ve been doing for a hundred years. It’s automated typically through an interface and it makes it easier rather than having to sign, print something, sign it and fax it back. It’s now available to sign in an interface. Also, it often enables agencies to optimize their inventory and what they’re buying on a faster basis, but RTB or real-time bidding is just a subset of that. And again has just as many, I guess, misnomers or whatever it is as programmatic does itself but you can do programmatic without doing RTB. Of course, RTB is a very strong and well-functioning marketplace around unsold inventory for publishers of which there is a ton. There are 40 plus billion impressions a month, or I’m sorry a day.
Speaker 1 (05:47):
So part of that is about a kind of bargain shopping for your clients. Right.
Speaker 3 (05:53):
So it could be looked at that way, but I would say that it is for valuing an audience as much as, or more than just the content that it’s in. And so, while it could be bargain shopping, I guess at the same time going and spending $10 or $1,000 buying from a publisher direct that has 50% of its inventory unsold, I don’t know if it’s called bargain shopping if you’re going to get it for $3 or if it’s just simply called overspending going and getting it for $10.
Speaker 1 (06:25):
There you go. Fair enough. Okay. So for agencies who are just beginning to dabble in the digital media space, so they might be interfacing with Facebook directly, or they are going out to one of the big ad servers and buying, talk to me about how that’s different than what you guys do or what you teach agencies to do.
Speaker 3 (06:48):
So I think the way agencies have typically looked at things is to say, alright, where do we want our ads to appear? So do I want to go to my local newspaper or do I want to go to ESPN or WebMD or Facebook? And what programmatic does is it flips that around and says, who do you want to touch? Content and context is important. It’s not irrelevant, but the user is more important than the content or context alone. So if you prioritize and you put the user first, then put contextual wrapping around it and say, all right, I want my user, but let’s not have them in these contexts because it’s not only not relevant, but it’s perhaps distracting. You end up getting a much more resonating message than if you just go out and say, all right, I’m comfortable knowing that it’s in my local newspaper because that’s where my client and I look.
Speaker 1 (07:51):
Okay. So, so give me a real-life example, walk me through, give me a for instance.
Speaker 3 (07:55):
Sure. So a real easy example, cause I know a lot of regional agencies have a car dealership occasionally that you have as a client. So you think, all right, a car dealer, let’s say it’s Louisville, Kentucky. You think, alright, I’m going to put it in the local paper on their website. And then I also am going to buy some cars.com or maybe some auto trader, for example, because that’s where car shoppers are. This is true but auto trader or cars.com or Edmonds, those are all very expensive properties. Most of them are bought out at the national advertiser level, at least for the good spots. And so what we do is we say, let’s flip this around and let’s realize that you are trying to target people who are beginning to look for a car in Louisville, Kentucky. Where do we find those people?
Speaker 3 (08:49):
And then we have all sorts of data sources that both predictively model and behaviorally follow users who are either about to be in the market for a car or who have just recently shown that they have entered the market to buy a car. And so the key here is that if you show the right user an ad, but that ad is on, let’s just say cnn.com, well, that dealer doesn’t have the money to go hit the minimums on CNN. And it wouldn’t make sense for them to buy a rotating slot on CNN. But if we know that that user is a prime user and this is generally algorithmically driven to a degree, partly based on, or sometimes just based on past browsing history. But being able to buy one impression at a time for the right users, as long as they’re in a reasonable and respectable context is just flat out, more effective than going the site based buying method.
Speaker 1 (09:58):
Okay. So, if an agency has been buying based on sites, I’m buying ESPN, I’m buying my local newspaper, my radio rep through some online ads with my radio buy all of that, how do they move, how do they educate themselves and move to this more sophisticated buying model?
Speaker 3 (10:10):
I wrote out a number of steps here that if I were an agency owner, as part of your group, that I would take. So number one is to find a partner you trust. And I know you mentioned, how can this be brought in-house? And, I’ve got a friend named Amy Wrecker who is a consultant to agencies and brands on bringing programmatic in-house. Her guideline is unless you have 15 people dedicated to running your programmatic media practice, solely dedicated, not names on an org chart that will touch it, but that’s a hundred percent of their job if you don’t have that many, then you shouldn’t be doing programmatic in-house.
Speaker 1 (11:00):
Well, I’ve got some AMI agencies that have brought it in-house and when they started, they had a small handful, two, three, four but you’re absolutely right. They very quickly have scaled up to that 15 or 20 person department to try and manage the labor-intensive work that it is.
Speaker 3 (11:21):
Right. And if I were to go into detail, which I won’t because it’s long, but just around the amount of work we do with data processing around all of the data that we get for our billions of impressions that we serve a month and the eight people we have dedicated to that, there generally are not regional agencies that can dedicate that type of resources to it. So I would say, and of course, there’s exceptions to every rule, but for 97% of the agencies that you’re going to come into contact with, I would suggest that finding a partner that you trust is number one. I want to walk through a few quick ways to do that. So number one is demand content and contextual transparency. So if you’re going to work with a partner, it’s your data. You have every right to know every impression or every site that every impression ran on what hours of the day, what days of the week, what browsers, what devices, what operating systems. Every programmatic vendor has all of that.
Speaker 3 (12:30):
That is nothing that should ever be hidden. And so I don’t care what, what salespeople give you as the reason if you’re an agency owner, of why that’s not possible, “well, our publisher contracts prohibit that”, not acceptable. It’s an open fact now that you can get all of that data. So number one is to demand transparency. If you can’t get there end the conversation. Number two is to understand their motivation. Now I don’t think this is all that different than frankly than forming a deal with a new client or any other vendor, but in ad tech and programmatic, so many of the vendors are venture capital-funded and looking to go IPO at some point. And so it’s important you understand what their company goals are, again, just like any other vendor, but I think it’s a little bit more acute in this space because of the space we’re in
Speaker 3 (13:28):
and the timing that we have and the way the market is and the valuations. What is their support structure? For instance, the ratio of support people that they have to salespeople. Because you’ll often get a salesperson, they say, yep, I am dedicated just to Northeast Louisville. It’s like, wow, that sounds great. But you find out that they then have to go home and run the campaigns. Well, that’s not good. And then of course I would look at the ability to customize. What are their minimums on campaigns? Because I think for a lot of regional agencies, sure you have that $20K a month campaign, but you also have two others that are $3,000 and $5,000 and you don’t want a partner who’s going to say, well, I’ll take the $20K, but not the other two. So those are what to look for, I think, in a partner.
Speaker 3 (14:17):
I think as you’re talking to these prospective partners though, look at the media you’re buying today and determine what media can be bought programmatically. Most of it can, radios around the corner still. There’s a little bit of TV and of course, if you need to be in true print, that’s not something that’s generally programmatic. But any digital medium and even the print that is driven by tablet and even radio with Pandora or Spotify is acceptable to you, it’s amazing how can be bought in programmatic nowadays if you just look at it that way.
Okay. All right. Any other steps
The only other step is just a reminder, going back to what we discussed before. As you’re talking to your partners or the vendors or publishers or anybody, you do have to think audience, audience, audience.
As opposed to media outlet, media outlet, media outlet.
Because if you are still in that media outlet mindset, you’re really gonna get hung up a lot. And you’re probably going to become frustrated.
Speaker 1 (15:25):
Well, and I think one of the things we forget about when we have our agency hat on is how we behave on the internet. So, yes, you might go to ESPN, but then you’re also on Facebook and then you’re on your local newspaper website, but then you’re also on a knitting website or some other hobby website. We as human beings have a pretty broad and varied set of interests. I understand the tools that folks like you and your company have available to you, you have a pretty good idea of where I, Drew McLellan am bouncing around from a Scrabble website to ESPN, to check on my Dodgers score to wherever else I may be going and can sort of track and follow me where I go.
Speaker 3 (16:09):
Yeah. I mean, we don’t know obviously your name or fingerprint or anything, but we know that the person who’s been sitting behind the browser that you use has gone to all of these various places. And I think also if you just mentioned, you know, how we use the internet ourselves, it’s amazing how much we don’t remember. If I had a logging device on any of your listener’s computers, and at the end of the month, I printed out every unique website that they went to, I bet you, at least a third of those, the people would be shocked. I don’t remember going there, or I’ve never even heard of that. But you click out on a link from Facebook to a funny quiz or an article or something and it’s amazing how many domains we go to that we don’t recognize. And so when you see that in your RTB or in your programmatic plan, your instinct is to say, well, this is no good, but then you realize, no, you and so many other people do indeed visit those sites.
Speaker 1 (17:04):
Well sure, because we have to find out what our spirit animal is or whatever the question of the day is on Facebook. So for agency folks who are listening to this and are a little anxious about the topic, how do they… I will give an unrequested, but firmly endorsed the books that the Goodway folks put out. The 30-day books are awesome. They are written for agency folks. They are easy to understand. They don’t assume you know anything and best of all, the Goodway, folks are happy to share those with you at no cost. So, if at the end of the podcast, Jay is certainly going to be giving you some contact information. So if you have interest in the books that he mentioned, or that I mentioned in my intro of him, I know he would be happy to get that to you. So beyond your own books, where are other places or ways that agency owners can get themselves because oftentimes agency owners are not digital natives and all of this is a little bit foreign to them and a little frightening. How do they get themselves and their team educated enough about all of this so that they can talk to clients about it?
Speaker 3 (18:23):
Yeah. So I think everyone is looking for that website that I can just go read every day and I’m going to come away in a couple of weeks just knowing programmatic. Wouldn’t that be awesome? And if there is a website like that or the closest thing to, it would be Ad Exchanger. So Adexchanger.com. Very, very solid website. John and the guys over there and Zach and everybody, they’re very smart and put together a good product. That’s the closest thing there is to it, but it’s going to take a while. And if you’re not familiar with programmatic, you’re gonna probably have five questions a day just going through it. I think as part of the take action plan that I’d like to give everybody toward the end of this discussion, I have a way for users to get more educated, while at the same time finding a good partner to do it.
Speaker 3 (19:18):
So we can certainly go through that now, or we can wrap up with that.
Let’s go through that now.
What I would hope they walk away from this with is in finding a partner, first I would recommend having a strong handle on the platform and service providers that are available in the market. Goodway is one and there are, there are 30 others. So if for nothing else, certainly you can go to Ad Exchanger and read up day today and see which ones you’re hearing about. Uh, you can also, of course, look at the LUMAscape It’s a little bit limited in certain parts and very, very strong in others but I would have a handle on the platforms so that you know the universe. That’s number one. Number two, call people like us or people like Centro or people like Media Math and invite us in to go over how we work with agencies like you.
Speaker 3 (20:21):
The third step is to not believe anything that any of us say in that presentation. We are as good as any industry at telling a really great story. The people that you hear things from, again, whether it’s us or anyone else take notes of what interests you and then ask them to verify and validate what they’ve done with real data. So, I once had someone explain to me that they literally update every impression that their ad server sees and serves with an algorithm that identifies the exact probability of conversion and matches it with a value. And I’m like, great, show me part of that algorithm. You don’t have to show me the whole thing. It’s proprietary. Or show me 10,000 rows of data or impressions, pre-algorithm or post-algorithm. Show me the difference. I want to see it at work. What I think people get carried away with is the stories that we have in this space sometimes seem so fantastic, both in a good way and a bad way that we let ourselves believe them.
Speaker 3 (21:37):
And then we kind of kick ourselves for not doing the gut check or the heart investigation on the backend. It’s doable. I talked with a provider one time who told me that they scrub out all of the centroid data, which you can look that up, it’s a long story, from latitude longitude information within mobile. I said, prove it to me. Show me your database, show me the initial raw log that came in, and then show me what you scrubbed and why. They did. I believed them. The final thing is, I would say you need to test for culture and service. We work with vendors in a variety of areas as well, even down to the who provides our servers or whatever. And at the end of the day, culture is as important, if not more important than the claims and everything that is made in the presentation. And the reason I say that is because no matter how fantastic the claims are, if you get to working together and it’s difficult, and you can’t get your clients what you’ve promised in a timely manner then none of that other stuff matters.
Speaker 1 (22:48):
Amen to that. That’s for sure. At the end of the day, it’s is your reputation that you’re putting on the line every time you partner with somebody. So you want to make sure you’re partnering with somebody who behaves towards clients and client’s work the way you do so that you have that in alignment. Yeah, absolutely. So again, for a lot of these folks tough, even if they go through all of that, the world in which you and your competitors live is still pretty foreign to them. How do they learn? So I’m an agency owner. How do I learn? Or how do I teach my account service people how to talk to clients about this and how to know when this is a good or right solution to talk to clients. How do agencies learn how to do that?
Speaker 3 (23:36):
The first step is to accept that programmatic media buying can be your default for anything that’s programmatically viable. So if it’s digital, mobile video, audio, whatever it is. I remember 10 years ago, I was listening to someone speak somewhere and they said, imagine if you approached your next annual plan, and you said, let’s take TV off the table. What comes next? What do we do next? And I think for the majority of clients, at that time, would have been digital. Today, there are a lot of clients that put digital on the table first. And so I think to your point, taking programmatic and saying, why should programmatic not be first? I’m not saying it’s going to be, but asking yourself that question, sometimes it just is a matter of considering it and remembering that it’s there and that makes you go, yeah. You know what I mean?
Speaker 3 (24:39):
We don’t even have to be an RTB, or maybe there’s some that are right for RTB. And we do want to buy our local newspaper, but we can buy it programmatically, which means we can pick the impressions we want with more accuracy and with better targeting. So I would say number one, consider it first. Number two, read Ad Exchanger, and Media Post, and all of the other publications. And then third, in order to educate, I really, I really would kind of go through the take action steps that I just outlined about calling the vendors. I’ve done a number of education sessions for regional agencies around the country, and they always learn something. Obviously, it’s best if you don’t call people like us in just to learn with no promise of ever working together but I’ve done a lot of these education sessions and they’ve led to a lot of great partnerships that have good trust and a solid foundation around them.
Speaker 1 (25:33):
And is it reasonable for agencies to expect vendors like you to continue to educate? So my agency and Goodway now have a relationship. Is it reasonable for me to acknowledge that A – your world is changing at the blink of an eye and B- I, as an agency owner, I’m never going to be able to track all of that, but that’s your job. So you’re going to help keep me educated and help me prepare presentations for clients and all that. Is that all in what’s reasonable?
Speaker 3 (26:06):
So I think that goes into the expectation setting upfront when you’re finding a partner. I can tell you that if an agency came to us and said, Hey, look, we’ve looked at everybody. We really like what you offer. We’re going to place the majority of our programmatic through you. It’s not that we’re never going to use anybody else, but in exchange for doing that, and this isn’t so much legally contractually bound, but, you know, even on a handshake, but we’d like you to bring us information about the industry and innovations, and we’d like you to help us with new business pitches. And even if it’s not always directly to your benefit, we do that all the time. All the time. We have probably 50 relationships with regional agencies around the country where we do exactly that. So it’s reasonable to look for a partner that will help you in those ways. Yeah, absolutely. And I think that if you get down the road with a partner who you are spending, you know, good money with, and you’re treating as a partner, but they’re not partnering back, then you gotta look at that relationship again and reevaluate.
Speaker 1 (27:10):
I knew this was going to be a fascinating conversation and you are not disappointing. I have lots more to ask you, but first, let’s take a quick pause and then come on back. If you’ve been listening to the podcast for a while, odds are, you’ve heard me mention the AMI peer networks or the agency owner network. And what that is really is, it’s like a Vistage group or an EO group. Only everybody around the table owns an agency in a non-competitive market. So, as a membership model, they come together twice a year for two days, two days in the spring, and two days in the fall. And they work together to share best practices. They show each other their full financials. So there’s a lot of accountability. We bring speakers in and we spend a lot of time problem solving around the issues that agency owners are facing.
Speaker 1 (27:55):
If you’d like to learn more about it, go to agencymanagementinstitute.com/network. Okay, let’s get back to the show. So from an agency sort of culture and education point of view, are there, when you look across the spectrum of your clients and you look at the agencies that are really knocking it out of the park versus agencies that are struggling in the whole digital media buying area, are there commonalities amongst the ones that are doing well with it? That are making good money? That are helping their clients achieve great results? What do they have in common?
Speaker 3 (28:33):
I would say, one thing that all the ones doing well have in common is this ability to get to the important parts about working with a partner and finding a partner, which are trustworthiness and motivation, integrity, and transparency, more than I need to understand every aspect of programmatic before we can work together. Does that make sense?
Yeah. It’s sort of like, you don’t really want the surgeon to explain exactly what they’re going to do. You just want to trust that they’re going to cut in the right place.
Exactly. And so I would say that the agencies that we work well with, and that are not only retaining the business they have but that we see easily going out and pitching new business are in a way, surgeon salespeople. They’re going out and we provide them with a lot of ammo and we provide them with a lot of information. We make sure that they know the information we’ve given them backward and forward. But when they get to that pitch, if the client asks them something that they don’t know, they’re not scared and they don’t shy away from it. And they just say, you know what? This is such a complicated industry. And we have a ton of experts. They’re not all in this room right now, but anytime you have questions like that, we can come back and get you the answer.
Speaker 1 (29:55):
So, you know, it’s funny. As we’re describing this surgeon salesperson, it’s exactly what agencies want from their clients, right? They don’t want their clients to micromanage them. They don’t want to have to explain why they moved the pixel from here to here. They do want their clients to have faith in them and trust in them and know that they’re doing what’s in the client’s best interest at all times. Right? So it makes perfect sense, but isn’t it funny that we as agency owners and agency leaders struggle with having that same trust relationship with our vendors. It’s probably a great reminder of why it’s difficult for our clients to, it’s very scary to trust someone who’s doing something for you that you don’t understand.
Speaker 3 (30:44):
Yeah. I totally agree with you. But I think that is at the end of the day, the only way it actually ends up working.
Speaker 1 (30:52):
And you know what, I’ll bet you, everybody who’s listening is nodding their head when they think about the clients that they love to work with. And those are the clients that trust them. It’s not that you don’t want clients to ask questions, but you don’t want to have to explain every nuance of every decision. Right?
Speaker 3 (31:09):
Yeah. I would go so far as to say, I don’t mind explaining every nuance to any question, but what I don’t want to be, as an agency owner, I don’t want my client to expect that I have that information always at my fingertips at the moment. And so what, what I want agency owners to feel confident with, with their partner, if it’s us, is I can get the answer to any question you have, and the answer I give you will be really smart, but I don’t always have that answer right at the ready.
Speaker 1 (31:46):
So, I think one of the reasons why a lot of agencies struggle with digital media buying and partnering with someone like you guys is, we’re used to being the experts. And for many of us, we’ve been doing this for a long time and we really do have a great depth of expertise in a lot of this stuff. And so I think one of the reasons why a lot of agencies shy away from the digital media buying or they just sort of close their eyes and hope. It’s pretty uncomfortable to not be the expert. Sure.
Speaker 3 (32:19):
So I would agree with you. I’ll say a couple of things around that as marketing and technology get closer together. Now you’re looking at needing big data knowledge and SQL or no SQL or sparker or Hadoop processing knowledge to deal with the amount of data that an enterprise generates. I don’t ever expect an agency owner to be an expert in software or that field. So this is where it’s going, it’s going to hyper-specialization. And what’s important is that you have hyper-specialization people that you can always call and get the answers you need. And so I think the world’s changing. All I can tell you is from our experience, the agency owners that want to know it all before they get into it are the agency owners that have stayed very small. Their businesses have stayed very small and they haven’t stayed small on purpose. And the people who say, you know what, I’m confident. I feel like I’ve got a great partner. I know you’re there to back me up. I’m going to go sell this thing. They’re the ones who are growing and retaining their clients with more ease.
Speaker 1 (33:34):
When I meet with agency owners or I’m teaching a workshop and I have asked them to introduce themselves and tell us a little bit about their agency, the phrase that everyone, regardless of, if they have two employees or 150 employees uses, “full-service agency”. Right. And, and so I think part of what is evolving in the agency model is I think agencies need to recognize that when they say full service in the client or the prospect’s head immediately, the phrase, I don’t think so, comes to mind. And be that in today’s world, to your point with technology and all of the things that are going on in the marketing space, it is nearly impossible to actually have everything under one roof. You know, when I started in the business, we had a librarian on staff who did research for us. I started at Y&R and we had video folks and we had amazing resources that in today’s world, even the big shops don’t have anymore.
Speaker 1 (34:42):
And certainly, if you’re a shop of 150 people or less, there’s no way economically you can have every subject matter expert, you need to run your agency on behalf of your client in-house. And so we have to get more comfortable with acknowledging that we may, as an agency, drive the strategy and the vision and the business of that client’s relationship, but we have got to lean on some partners.
Speaker 3 (35:09):
You know what, it’s really interesting. I saw an article, how can agencies adopt the Airbnb model or the Uber model. And essentially not owning the inventory or the resources directly, but owning the strategy and the client relationship. And that really resonated with me because the agencies that we see doing the best and take that to heart, they own that relationship. And they own the overarching, but the specialists that they use, whether it’s with tech or with printing and promotions or with digital, whatever it is, they don’t worry about owning that. They see that as the Uber ride or the Airbnb overnight, not the technology and the relationship.
Speaker 1 (35:56):
Yeah. That’s a great analogy. I know agency owners are struggling with it, but it’s someplace we all have to get to because we’re not going to go back to 1992, right? That’s just not going to happen. So, if we want to evolve, and if we busted a hump to survive the ‘08 recession, if we have that killer instinct in us, we also, I’m hoping, have the instinct of survival that will allow us to evolve to this sort of hub and spoke model where we are the hub. But boy, we better have strong spokes all around us that deliver all of these areas of expertise that are outside of our wheelhouse.
Speaker 3 (36:36):
Yeah. And I think if you look at the holding companies and what they’re doing, they’re doing that. They’re of course keeping it in-house, but a Y&R of today, or a Gray of today, or a Leo Burnett, they don’t have all that in-house, but they have 50 other companies within the holding company that does specialize in those things. And if you’re Proctor and Gamble or whatever, that may be fine, but for the universe of clients and agencies that we’re talking about, this is the model that is helping people succeed.
Speaker 1 (37:03):
Yeah, absolutely. So, beyond having the trust factor, what does an agency need to do to be a good hub for the spokes out there? So let’s flip it around. I’ve been asking you what you need to do to be a good provider from an agency’s point of view, what do we need to do to be a good client? So again, whether it’s a PR firm that we’re doing a specialty or it’s you guys, or somebody else, exactly. What do you guys look for in an agency partner?
Speaker 3 (37:34):
First, it would be great for agencies to want to pay as much money as possible, but after that, there’s a couple of things. I think in the programmatic space, what we look for are agencies who make it easy to be smart and to deliver great results. And the way to do that is, so going back to our what outlet versus what audience, the agencies that come to us and talk about the audience they want to reach first, man, that makes it so much easier. And, it’s not just for us. It’s easier to deliver a plan back to them that they can show their client that they love. So that’s one example. I think to our point before accepting that they don’t know everything about programmatic, but wanting to learn and understand. But if they decide that they do want to learn and understand something, really being willing to learn and understand it, and not just a short term memory storage. Learning it instead of memorizing it, I would say as a follow-up to that, I see a lot of agency folks that memorize answers and they get caught up on the next question because it’s inevitably a follow-up.
Speaker 3 (38:50):
And then I would say the final thing that makes, well, there’s two more things that make it really great for an agency or for us to work with an agency. Number one is knowing and being willing to really poke and prod the client to get to the real goal of a campaign.
So give me an example of what you mean by that. S
So I can’t tell you how many times we work with an agency and we say, you know, what’s the goal? Let’s say it’s a local water park or it could be a car dealer. They say we’re just looking for people to know why we’re here. How are we going to measure that? Maybe what I’m trying to say here is people who understand that digital is measurable, but it’s not magical.
Speaker 3 (39:34):
And so think ahead to the end of the campaign report or even the first 30-day report that we’re going to deliver. What needs to be in that report such that you, the agency, are really excited to show it to your client. There isn’t really any way to show that lots more people now know we’re here. Similarly though, when people say, well, we’re just looking to sell cars or we’re just looking to get people through the door. It’s like, okay. Well again, digital is measurable. It’s not magical. What are the essentially intermediary goals or intermediary steps that we can measure? So going back to the car dealer example, we can’t measure cars sold easily if it’s one dealer. But what we can measure is how many users did we end up getting to the site, regardless of whether or not it was a click. How many of those users ended up looking at your inventory, new versus pre-owned?
Speaker 3 (40:29):
How many ended up filling out a lead form? How many looked at specific inventory and not just general? So there’s a lot of things that we can tell that directionally tell us how we’re doing. And then for larger clients, there are some really great ways that you can measure true offline success. Whether it be through a credit card, swipe data, or name matching on the backend. There’s some great stuff we can do, but you have to have realistic goals. Helping us get to those is great. And then the final thing is when an agency accepts the fact that their client won’t blank. Well, our client won’t let us place a pixel on the website. Well, our client really won’t let us look at their sales data or our client won’t let us have their database. And that may be true. I don’t know, but I can tell you that is the beginning of where relationships and where I see client-agency relationships starting to end. Because if you don’t have full trust and full access, then you’re not going to be able to give them the results that match their expectations.
Speaker 1 (41:34):
Well, and a lot of times I think it’s about helping the client understand why you need or want that access, whatever it is, and what you’re going to do with it, to show them how they can then merchandise through their organization success. Right? So it’s a look if we have facts, A, B, and C, then when we give you a month-end or quarter-end or year-end report, we’re going to be able to show you X, Y, or Z, which you can then take to the CEO and go, this is what I did with our marketing budget. And, I think sometimes, especially agencies that have been more about a brand or traditional creative shops who have not been asked to really sort of prove their value. And one of the things that we hear loud and clear when we talk to CMOs and some of the research we do is, those days are over. The CMOS are now being forced to document what was the ROI for every marketing dollar you spend.
Speaker 1 (42:36):
And so they’re looking to us as agencies and going, okay, I gave you $1, $10, a hundred million dollars, it doesn’t matter the amount. What did I get for that? And I can’t just show them a board of pretty ads. I need to be able to say, we drove this many test drives, or we did this, whatever it is exactly, I have to be able to quantify to some degree, to some end goal what we did with the money. And so, what you’re saying makes perfect sense that for you to be able to deliver that, agencies have to be willing to go back to their clients and say, I know that you said that either you don’t have access to this, or we can’t have access to this. Let me show you what we want to do with it and revisit that conversation.
Speaker 3 (43:24):
Yeah. If you’re Coca-Cola and you’re going to spend $20 million on a campaign, you want to know how much more Coke you’re going to sell, or at least how much Coke you’re going to sell that you would have otherwise lost. That has to be quantifiable. And I think to your point, and I think all of your listeners will identify this with this, the smaller the client, the more hyper-focused they are on getting exactly what they want out of it. And so we’re not dealing with $20 million budgets, that may be a rounding error. We’re dealing with a hundred thousand dollar digital budgets or what it may be. You know, there are agencies calling up and pitching your clients every week. So what do we need to do? And how can you as an agency help us as your expert partner deliver stuff? Well, we need to know exactly what we need to be judged on when it comes to success.
Speaker 1 (44:29):
I think that’s a lesson, again, back to our conversation about agencies having to evolve. That’s an uncomfortable reality that we all have to get comfortable in a hurry that we have to be able to help clients measure and create metrics around what’s working and what’s not and adjust accordingly. So that at the end of the budget quarter campaign, whatever, we can say here’s what happened. This is fascinating. And I could keep talking, but I want to be mindful of both your time and our listener’s time. I want to move towards wrapping up. So you gave us early on in the podcast, some very actionable items. So normally I wrap up the podcast saying I really want some tangible things, but you did that already so that that’s awesome. Are there any sort of last thoughts or comments that you want to leave the listeners, the agency owners, and their leadership teams in terms of partnerships or programmatic buying or anything that we’ve talked about today?
Speaker 3 (45:32):
You know, I think the last thing I would say is really to follow up on what I just touched on, but didn’t really go deep into and that’s that there are other agencies calling on your client every week. Are you happy? Are you happy? You know, would you like to invite us in? I’d say the most rewarding thing in everything that I do is when I hear that we have delivered an agency results and a plan and an intelligence around something that makes their clients say, I can’t imagine ever leaving you. And so, as it relates back to programmatic, programmatic is not an option anymore. It’s not something that I would recommend you look at as if it’s a fit. I would look at it, I think as you know, you and I have talked before 48% of eyeball and mind share time is now digital, whether it’s phone or desktop or whatever it may be.
Speaker 3 (46:35):
And that continues to grow. Because if you look at how we’re watching TV and especially how younger generations are watching TV, it’s not linear over the air, it’s over the top. And so if you, if you have an agency that you still want to be relevant and awesome 10 years from now, this isn’t for someone who’s looking to sell out in the next 12 months. But if you want to be awesome, 10 years from now, it is time now to start thinking about defaulting to programmatic. Maybe/maybe not always RTB as the way you buy digital and buying non-programmatically as the exception. Because the case studies that we can give, that partners like us can give, agencies like those in your group to help pitch new business are so compelling and strong. So I want your listeners to be able to have those case studies and experiences themselves, rather than it being a competing agency that works with a competing partner. Someone who competes with us to get some super case study to go pitch a client and the client goes, my current agency has never given me anything like this.
Right. And so I got to get some of that. Exactly.
Speaker 3 (47:53):
And so that’s, I guess my parting words are I want to make sure that your listeners are never caught off guard saying, well, we were thinking about it when their client comes to them with something new.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I think the day of maybe we’ll go digital or maybe we’ll be in the digital space is, is long gone and, and agencies need to, if they’re not already on that train, they better hop on in a hurry. Awesome. This has been great, Jay. So if people are trying to track you down and want to follow up with you, you want to get a copy of one of those free books that I mentioned earlier, how do they find you?
Speaker 3 (48:39):
So the best way is always email – [email protected] Just like it sounds Goodwaygroup.com. You can call my cell phone. I’m on the phone all day, usually and sometimes traveling. So it’s hard but (214) 693-1965. You can of course visit us at goodwaygroup.com. And if you don’t mind about half of the tweets being about soccer, you can follow me on Twitter @JayMFriedman.
Your soccer or kid’s soccer?
No, about professional soccer. Yeah, I split it. So none of my followers are actually very happy. The soccer followers are annoyed about all this programmatic junk that I post and vice versa.
Well, you know what, as we said earlier, we, as human beings are complicated and have lots of layers. So I guess our Twitter feed should do the same.
Right. There you go.
This has been great. Thank you for your time. Thank you for sharing your expertise. I appreciate it. And, uh, I know that all the listeners appreciate it as well, so thank you.
You got it. Thank you so much.
Speaker 2 (49:40):
That’s all for this episode of Build A Better Agency, brought to you by HubSpot. Be sure to visit AgencyManagementInstitute.com to learn more about our workshops, online courses, and other ways we serve small to midsize agencies. Don’t miss an episode as we help you build the agency you’ve always dreamed of owning.