Media agencies must collaborate more with creative shops

Here's how the two sides can forge closer partnerships to serve clients better.

Media agencies and creative agencies are increasingly giving conflicting advice in an era when clients are demanding more dynamic, optimised content – particularly on social media.

At Iris, the creative agency where I work, there are four significant challenges we come up against every day.

1 Playing the long game 

Creative agencies are required by clients to be guardians of the brands they work with and therefore focus on the long-term health of clients’ businesses. 

When it comes to social media, setting the right objectives is key to ensuring long-term success. 

Our entry point is always: how can we re-educate our audiences about what our brands mean to them? 

However, media agencies are often briefed differently. Clients want to see media efficiencies and short-term benefits. This conflict isn’t easy to consolidate and resolve. 

For example, media agencies will relay verbatim advice from Facebook about things such as including your brand in the first three seconds of a piece of content.

Getting people to see the brand in the first three seconds is different to getting people to change their perception of a brand.

See a logo once and you’ll hit your media report target, but educate someone that a brand they haven’t considered is right for them and you’ll build a loyal customer base. 

2 Audiences are not all equal

Most of the brands we work with have a core audience of super-fans who will react positively towards anything they’re served on social media.

Engagement is always high with this audience, so it’s tempting to serve all creative to that audience to boost the numbers and show media effectiveness.

However, audiences are just groups of people who react differently to content. 

Jonny who loves his mobile handset might tell his friends that every day, but he won’t be upgrading for another three years. Tom might be harder to convince, but once he’s brand loyal he will buy a new phone every six months. One audience might be more expensive, but it is of much greater value. 

It’s critical that we align ourselves with the ideologies and values of our audiences in an attempt to deliver a wholesale change in brand attitude.

And this only works if we work hand in hand with media agencies, so we are aligned and target with the same objective in mind.

3 Building an emotional connection

We relate best to brands when an emotional connection is formed, but making that connection is difficult.

It’s hard to tell an emotional narrative and build brand love over defined time periods and it’s also hard to measure an emotional response.

Media metrics shouldn’t lead when it comes to showing the impact of social media creative on brand love. 

Cut that 30-second edit down to 10 seconds to make it cheaper to promote and the immediate numbers will reflect a better return on investment, but it will not translate into a long-term impact on the brand. 

4 Access to data and insights

Media agencies keep a tight control on data and this limits how creative agencies can form their own opinions on how a piece of creative is performing and whether to tweak the output to improve the impact on consumers. 

To tackle this new challenge in the era of dynamic content optimisation, media agencies will need to start working more collaboratively with creative agencies and acknowledge that we are all working towards the same goal.

We are not in the business of massaging the numbers but nurturing flourishing brands, and we can only do this together.

When a media agency and a creative agency forge a genuine partnership, it leads to a significant uplift in tangible results. 

This includes: 

  • Getting together earlier in the process to help educate clients on how to brief better 
  • Aligning on strategic objectives and working harder to segment audiences in the right ways
  • Sharing results and building meaningful insights to improve performance for clients

All media agenices need to find a way to work with creative agencies in partnership and with our clients’ best interests in mind.

We are up for the challenge if they are.  

Beth Carroll is social content director at Iris 

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