This content was first published here on MediaPost on July 12, 2021.
Marketers want more from their agencies, but want to pay less. Agency business models haven’t adapted to this demand.
Agencies that want to thrive must turn to automation to be more profitable, and also to operationalize highly complex processes that stretch the capacities of employees (think: analyzing 20+ campaign parameters in real time). In turn, agency professionals focused on highly manual tasks will be able to spend time on more strategic work and client management.
Here are six keys to driving value from automation for your agency:
Define goals. Automation encompasses a wide range of solutions that reduce human intervention in processes. Identify the processes that need this most. For example, your media professionals may be logging in and out of 10 to 20 platforms a day just to do their jobs. Imagine how much you could reduce content-switching exhaustion if these tasks were consolidated and streamlined.
Go big on unifying. Agencies play many roles for clients, so focus on the most important aspects. To manage its entire digital media business, an agency needs a handle on inventory management, reporting, analytics, contract management, personnel utilization, team collaboration, billing and so on. A holistic view and comprehensive approach to managing all digital channels can compound the benefits of automation.
Synchronize automation with AI. Use robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI). RPA, a practice that automates routine processes such as data extraction and creating reports, is already used by some agencies for functions such as SEO audits and competitor analysis. Deloitte’s Automation with Intelligence report says nearly 65% of organizations are either scaling or experimenting with combining RPA and AI. Those that use them together report average revenue growth of 9% (as opposed to 3% for those that don’t).
Omnichannel buying. No, I don’t mean programmatic. Programmatic is great, but omnichannel advertising automation should increase productivity, decrease labor costs, increase speed, reduce errors, and encompass all digital buying.
Don’t pull back on programmatic. Instead, reimagine it as the nucleus of all-encompassing interconnected systems for advertisers and agencies. Programmatic ad systems could be a connective tissue that informs and optimizes omnichannel marketing.
Team collaboration. Collaboration tools deliver unified views on projects, prompts and centrally stored communications. Connecting these functions to workflows of media teams could help notify professionals and guide them toward campaigns that need improvement. Documented communications around campaigns make it easier for new team members if there is turnover.
Comprehensive reporting. A key aspect of agencies is telling the campaign story. Nobody enjoys PPT reports for clients, but it is necessary. Imagine if media professionals automated performance reports and clients accessed them via the cloud. No more patching of copy-pasted pieces of different performance reports. More time could be spent strategizing optimizations or analyzing learnings.
Agencies shouldn’t drag their feet about automation. In the long run, those who embrace it will thrive, while those that don’t will fall behind.