Courtship 101: What agencies wish ad tech knew

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We are all in this together to bring clients the best, most efficient and effective results.

No matter what side of the deal you sit on, we all want the same thing: to find the most effective and efficient solutions for our clients.  

The hard part is finding the right partner in a sea of potential ad tech suitors, all promising impactful results, incredible ROI and client delight. There never seems to be enough time to meet and understand all the tools available in the market. 

For an agency, working with a new partner comes with some major barriers, including the time commitment to understand the product fully, get onboarded and give the tool enough time to work its magic. There’s also the cost of bringing on a new partner and the potential risks of leaving the status quo for something new.  

I currently sit at the agency side of the table, but I previously sat on the partner side. So I wanted to share some lessons I’ve learned to make this courtship more successful for everyone. 

The old adage of “Time is Money” rings true for a media buyer’s full day. On average, my department leads receive more than 10 emails per day requesting a meeting. While we don’t mean to ignore them (we know it’s important to build relationships), we often don’t have the time to respond to all of them.

Cost is also a factor. In programmatic, a managed service relationship is more expensive than self-service, which means you’ll need to train your team how to use the platform to avoid incremental fees.  

Changing partners also comes with risk. People don’t like change, and businesses are no different. Even if you’re only achieving average results, it can be scary to upend the status quo. In other words, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” 

I am often asked whether the brand or the agency drives partner change. The answer is both. Sometimes we look for new partners when KPIs aren’t being met. Other times, we look for partners who can help us challenge the status quo. 

Relationship building is important. I prefer to work with people who know my clients’ needs and my work style. I see courtship as a long-term investment. It’s never too late to begin a new relationship based on trust.  

To break through, I cannot stress this enough: avoid reaching out during planning season. It’s already too late to be included in this year’s plan. We’re up to our ears in RFPs and are weeks into building mega-sized decks to present to our clients. We are less willing to include an untested, unvalidated partner in our mix this late in the game. 

Next, find ways to provide value throughout the year to keep your company top of mind with my client. Is there a customized one-sheeter that I can share around an upcoming holiday or consumer trend? How can you show me that you understand my clients’ world and what keeps them up at night? Be mindful of the content; more isn’t always better. Smarter is always best.

Finally, make onboarding and integration easy and seamless. How do we get campaigns in-market faster to begin seeing, analyzing and optimizing results? The longer the start-up period, the less likely we are to be open to change.

We are all in this together to bring clients the best, most efficient and effective results. Only by playing nicely in the sandbox will we be able to do just that. 

Mindy Day is head of Partnerships and Platforms at Media Matters Worldwide.

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