Oliver McAteer
May 28, 2020

What CMOs want in a media agency, according to new study

The latest Forrester Wave report ranks UM, OMD, Carat and Starcom among the top global media shops of today.

What CMOs want in a media agency, according to new study

Blazing the artificial intelligence trail, collapsed silos for integrated media, technology and creative, content scaled with audience precision and big data. Those, in a nutshell, are all the components which form a winning media agency for the modern chief marketing officer.

And UM, OMD, Carat and Starcom are among the global leaders in this field, according to the new Forrester Wave report

"CMOs and heads of media contend with increasingly elusive consumers who report that they regularly avoid ads and question advertising’s usefulness in learning about new products and services," part of the report reads. "Today’s suboptimal advertising experience isn’t helped by the advertising industry’s separation of media from creative, which has led to competing agency factions and disintegrated campaigns. 

"It should come as no surprise that today’s CMOs are on the hunt for better outcomes and partnerships. Adaptive CMOs require agency partners to harness data and creativity to better connect the medium, message, and moment. The combined idea and context produce a whole that’s greater than the sum of its parts.The media agency market is maturing into an integrated, content-rich, precision marketing offering." 

Experts suggest that CMOs and heads of media should look for agencies which do the following well (below is in the words of Forrester):

Scale creative content with audience precision

The best-paid media executions activate creative content across pinpointed audiences, whether the aim is performance or upper funnel. All global media agencies provide content development services. The best agencies leverage a precision approach to promoting and distributing content. One global media agency created 5B, a feature-length documentary for a client, that chronicles the first hospital ward in the US dedicated to caring for aids patients; the feature film was distributed via streaming platforms, and paid media campaigns targeted high-value audiences via performance tactics. 

Integrate marketing technology, media, and creative execution

Media agencies provide marketers with expertise in audience and channel selection. Today, media agencies integrate solutions across the technology, content, and media landscape. The best global agencies offer brands holistic, integrated agency structures that seamlessly connect creative and channels. One agency created a holding company agency solution that includes media, creative technology, and analytics in an integrated solution. "The ability to manage large-scale global clients, strategic buying efficiencies, and creative is something you don’t often see in a bespoke holding company model," says one VP of marketing and media. 

Blaze the automation and AI trail for execution and operations

The tension between machine automation and agency craft is on full display in today’s digital and marketing transformation setting. All global media agencies use data and automation in their operations to define audiences, select appropriate channels, and optimize results. The best media agencies leverage automation and ai as part of media and creative execution, too. One agency developed an A.I. platform to help an australian broadcaster predict wickets during the australian cricket World cup. Each prediction created real-time notifications and ads to alert viewers to tune in to the match. The platform predicted nearly 2,000 wickets, resulting in average weekly sales increases. 

Enhance the centralised resources of their holding companies

CMOs and their agencies must navigate an ever-sprawling system of tools, platforms, and systems to effectively meet consumers’ shifting expectations. The extent of interdependence between global media agencies and the holding company’s centralised resources to manage execution isn’t lost on us. We anticipate a future in which forrester evaluates holding company media groups. The best media agencies enhance their holding company’s tools and resources with a proprietary planning platform that maximizes executional outputs. All leading global media agencies offer such integrations through shared resources and connections to common technology with their respective media groups and holding companies. 

Among the top agencies providing this full suite is IPG’s UM. The report states it envisions the future of media consulting and content at scale. The former media arm of Mccann Worldgroup is shifting its strategy from purely media services to include marketing consulting. The agency invests in advanced analytics, its high-value audience strategy, and technology to connect performance to brand communications. UM leverages IPG’s acxiom, the Kinesso data stack, as well as its own business optimization, learning, and analytical modelling tools. 

The report says UM is a good fit for CMOs looking to strategically unify marketing execution; move beyond conventional media placement; and scale original, branded, and addressable content. 

"Forrester is recognized as one of the most influential research and advisory firms in the world, and we value their evaluation of the ever-changing landscape of global media agencies," said Eileen Kiernan, Global CEO, UM. "We are honored to be recognized as a leader in Forrester’s study and look forward to continuing to drive results for our clients through our futureproofing strategies rooted in our relentless pursuit of better." 

Meanwhile, OMD is lauded for its expertise in harnessing technology and empathy to unlock new value. The agency is investing in quantifying the impact of media, further developing its cross-planning capabilities, and enhancing its consulting practices for both martech and adtech. OMD leverages the group’s omni audience activation and data platform as well as the media arm’s ecommerce, marketplaces, and investment management clout.

Experts note OMD as a good fit for CMOs looking for a connected communication experience. They added that the shop shows strength with a unified planning team, the use of private marketplaces to procure preferred inventory, and resources dedicated to audience activation. Clients like OMD for its media planning, buying, and econometric models. 

"As our industry confronts unprecedented disruption, clients are looking to their partners—agencies and analysts alike—to replace the unknown with the known," says OMD CEO Florian Adamski. 

"In this environment, the informed analysis in the Forrester Wave is even more relevant and valuable to marketers—and the recognition as a leader is even more significant. For OMD, we believe that this is both a goal achieved and a commitment to be met every day as we work to reveal new ‘knowns’ for our clients around the world."


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