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Media Agencies Need Context for Content, and Relevance Starts with Social

The iMedia Agency Summit in Scottsdale December 8-10, 2013, offered an opportunity to meet with some of the coolest agencies to hear more about what’s hot in digital marketing. Our own Mark Fiedler, VP Business Development and Sales for Cubeyou, was on hand to meet agency executives and hear what they had to say about trends in new digital marketing strategies.

Q: The theme for this year’s iMedia Agency Summit was “Media Re-defined: What Clients Want.” What were your takeaways after three days? What do clients want?

Mark: The big takeaway for me was that everyone is looking for an agency that offers differentiation in their strategy and media approach. There is less emphasis on display and search and more on social and video and while all these elements are important, what agencies are realizing is that media is more than demographics.

The path to differentiation is not to be found the “old way” – reach and frequency driven by audience – that’s demographics. It’s now more about the interest graph – how do you get people with relevant interests to connect with you. The focus is identifying who is your audience from an interest point of view? Do you identify reach and audience in real time, or do you are just thinking demographically, which is like playing one-dimensional chess. You need a deeper understanding of audience interests to properly understand how channels and interests tie together to differentiate your programs.

Q. Anything new in terms of how to reach your target audience? What’s the current thinking?

Mark: Social is clearly no longer a fad but is now part of everything. Not long ago, having a Facebook page was enough, but there is so much information out there you need to find a better way to differentiate your message and target your audience. Facebook Exchange, for example, presents a tremendous opportunity to harness social for advertising and marketing. The question now is where do you start?

Q. What are agencies facing now in terms of promoting audience engagement?

Mark:   I was really impressed by the keynote of Rishad Tobaccowala, Chairman of, DigitasLBi and Razorfish and Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer at VivaKi. He spoke about the importance of a customer-driven strategy. He said as today’s consumer raises their expectations of brands and gets smarter about using technology, those of us in the media industry must immerse ourselves in the same way.

As Tobaccowala said: “We, as marketers, should experience the innovations ourselves, such as wearing the health bands Fitbit. If a brand is matching their competition but is behind their customer, then they are behind!”

He spoke about this being the “year of renaissance” for agencies, which will come about as agencies help clients tell their brand stories using new tools and technologies.

Q. So how do these tools and technologies power this renaissance?

Mark: Today’s media agencies are all looking for something unique and differentiated; something that gives their programs more than you can buy on an ad network. To survive, agencies are continually reinventing themselves. They need to do more than just put a media plan together; they have to bring more value. Agencies need to stay relevant.

The big opportunity for agencies looking to build audience for their clients is to synthesize content from both search and content marketing. They need to put context around content and act as a strategic consultant who helps clients find their way in the ever-changing media world. They have to keep up to speed on what’s valuable to their client base, and their clients’ customers.

Q. So how do agencies create value for their clients?

Mark: The value comes from their ability to find and engage with an audience who cares. The tactics have become blurred – content marketing is paid media and social marketing is earned media, but relying on one arena is no longer enough. You have to identify what matters to customers, and identity the right channels to find the right people. It all comes back to knowing your audience in a deeper way than you can through traditional demographics. Where demographics are a two-dimensional metric, you now need three dimensions.

Q. And what role does Cubeyou play in helping agencies identify where to play in this new arena?

Mark: Cubeyou sits at the top of the funnel as you begin the media and content planning processes. Agencies use our market research to figure out who their clients’ customers truly are. We help them answer several key questions: What do they know about these customers? What do they know about the competition’s customers? Cubeyou’s Competitive Benchmark or Content Strategy reports offer an efficient first step to understand customer interest, and it only takes one week to create a report that delivers actionable insight.

There is a surplus of data in social, but you need context. We provide the context to help you make decisions about your clients’ customers and competitors. What are they interested in? What do they like? How do you best serve them? That’s what social is all about – moving from push to pull by serving the right information to people interested in becoming customers.

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