Media meets message - how connected are you?

08 May 2017  |  Catherine Becker and Marie Oldham 
Media meets message - how connected are you?

As VCCP Media is named Connected Agency of the Year at the 2017 Connies, CEO Catherine Becker and CSO Marie Oldham explore how connected we really are as an industry - and how the data we have on consumers can become a barrier to good communications planning

Unfortunately, big data doesn't always equal big insight and the vast amounts of data available to clients and agencies can actually act as a barrier to great thinking rather than provide an “insight pool” from which we can create innovative and effective communications frameworks.

Today’s retailers may have high street EPOS (electronic point of sale) data, online customer data, site analytics, CRM response rates, social data, tracking data, customer lifetime values and loyalty data to name a few - but has this delivered nirvana, or rather organisations composed of silos, too many stakeholders and a fear of risk-taking?

Does this bounty of data make it easier for clients to write a simple, integrated brief outlining the insights on which the organisation is moving forward or does it lead to clients who have multiple briefs and a complex web of agencies each fighting for their bit of the communications cake?

Agencies have been talking about the importance of connecting disciplines and data and for many years. We are the enviable mid-point at which vast amounts of diverse client data can be merged with in-depth consumer knowledge, and up to date understanding of the changing media landscape to produce integrated creative and media communications plans.

Ironically, despite the growing need to do this, we have become ever more fragmented with vast silos of both creative and media specialists vying for a slice of the action.

Overlaying the complexity that has emerged in the last five years with rapid changes in the way our customers now connect to our messages and the explosion of data on those consumers, our agency and client structures are less connected than ever.

The starting point for client conversations currently feel very narrow: “If I have a social media brief who do I give it to - my creative agency, the media agency, the PR agency, the CRM agency, the social agency, the digital agency?”

Or: “What is the best media or mix of media to resonate with my customers?”

Unfortunately, different views from agencies or even departments within the client marketing teams can lead to vastly different and parochial answers depending on who receives the brief.

In some ways, you can see why clients may think an internal agency is the right (easy?) solution. But the risks are huge. Great ideas come from more than just knowledge of your own brand - agencies bring together people who can translate insight and knowledge from other categories to create market changing communications.

Media agency knowledge of consumer channel behaviour can lead to cut through ideas. Memorable work usually combines great creativity with perfect media thinking - Meerkats are a national treasure because they are brought to us via national channels, providing a shared language (simples!).

Using digital media to spread Ice Bucket challenge videos demands personal engagement, or commenting on a John Lewis ad online is part of Christmas for many people.

This is why connecting disciplines right from the start of the brief and through the process is vital, ideally all from one team which is what we are providing at VCCP Media.

It’s time the media teams brainstormed with the creatives again. It’s time the product, ecommerce, CRM and digital teams at clients connect with the harvesting and growth roles of the brand teams. Only then can we connect our communications and connect with our consumers.

There’s another really dangerous trend in the market which will impact our ability to truly connect with our consumers and that is the obsession with direct, immediate impact. If we can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist, doesn’t work.

This fails to understand our consumers and build relationships with brands over time. Despite marketeers claiming that they measure long term effects or trigger media, there is still the scenario that unless we can see an immediate effect, it isn’t contributing to sales.


Catherine Becker (right) is CEO of VCCP Media; Marie Oldham is chief strategy officer

VCCP recently won Connected Agency of the Year and Best Use of Connected Data at Mediatel's 2017 Connies Awards

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