The Love Triangle: The Brand, The Agency & The Vendor
September 11, 2018
At the start of the year, Forbes predicted that mobile advertising would drive 75% of all digital ad spend in 2018. Indicative of a saturated market, optimising strategies to ensure mobile products achieve success can be quite a feat for brands. Whether brands are looking to scale, optimise their customer experiences or drive mobile engagement, many of them turn to agencies and their experience to help them manage the most effective strategy.
Agencies, in turn, can also act as gatekeepers to the world of vendors, with a good understanding of the vast number of effective networks, marketing, analytics and attribution solutions available in the market.
Once these partnerships are established, it could be considered a love triangle where all parties can benefit from the dynamic ecosystem. However, this is only the case if some key principles are followed. We think there are three fundamental aspects to building a healthy relationship between the brand, the agency and the vendor:
1. Build Trust
Trust: it’s a must! Trust between the brand, agency and vendor has a knock-on effect and it can only be achieved if all parties are actively working towards the same goal. The brand has to trust the agency; something that is built through honesty, deep understanding of the brand’s ambitions, and the ability to add value by remaining integrated in the supporting role when needed.
As the brand can also depend on the agency to provide vendor recommendations and audits, agencies need to make informed decisions based on experience gained over time working with their client list. As vendor specialists, they need to create a harmonious combination that works best for their brands, and must be flexible to go between all parties.
As for the vendor, it is imperative that they encourage the agency to put emphasis on ‘partner’ in the supply-partner relationship, and thus ensure that vital information is continually transferred. The brand, the agency and the vendor should understand the overarching objective and strategy at an equal level by continuously aligning to achieve those goals. Steer clear of siloing to ensure a collective workflow.
2. Be Transparent
Transparency is a key pillar of any healthy relationship. There are plenty of times where this transparency can be lost between the brand, the agency and the vendor.
One key example is an issue that can manifest between the agency and the brand. Failing to be clear and transparent regarding fee structuring can cause friction when managing the brand’s expectations. The provision of time could be a more efficient model for the agency to follow, rather than offering a defined service or a commission-based fee agreement.
With the agency model evolving rapidly, many have become an extension of brands’ in-house marketing teams, providing niche expertise that brands may struggle to resource in-house. In light of this, agencies are in the position to offer their expertise to recommend the best solutions, so brands can rest assured that they are driven by qualitative goals.
For the vendor, it is also vital to reassure the agency and the brand that they have a well-rounded perspective of their space. For ad networks, for example, tackling some key issues like ad fraud and brand safety is an important responsibility. That’s why transparency is integral; many vendors can achieve this by continuously encouraging their partners to cover issues like ad placements that strike the balance between scale and brand safety, or relay well-thought-out fraud prevention strategies.
Equally, the agency needs to both receive and give clear guidelines on creative direction and budget agreements and caps, ensuring all parties feed into a cohesive information loop.
3. Remain Agnostic
In the mobile ecosystem, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the vast amount of available marketing or advertising solutions. The upside of this is that many businesses have emerged with specified focuses for each stage of the mobile marketing funnel. That may be an ASO tool to increase organic traffic, an A/B testing tool to improve retention strategies or an ad network that will conduct effective retargeting campaigns.
Mobile agencies and consultancies have the ability to tie together the complex mobile marketing stack to ensure their brands’ teams execute efficient workflows. For agencies, it might be easier to stick with what they know, but they may be losing out on opportunities by not bringing on vendors that will benefit the client best.
Every advertiser has a unique challenge and therefore the tools that they need have to be right for each case scenario. It is important for agencies to remain agnostic when conducting the selection process to ensure that the most effective solution or partner is chosen.
Ultimately, the brand needs the best recommended partner based on experience and understanding, and for some brands it may well be that they need a different solution altogether.
With more investment being funnelled into the mobile ecosystem, the opportunities for agencies, brands and vendors are abundant. To make the most of these opportunities, members of the love triangle must take responsibility to ensure an honest and efficient partnership. By harnessing the three pillars of trust, transparency and remaining agnostic, we believe this is more than achievable.
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