Why Marketing Agencies Should Be Marketing-Centric, Not Media-Centric

People sitting around table in conference room

Many agencies typically provide media-centric metrics to their clients when presenting results.

This has become especially common as more traditional agencies have begun picking up digital activities and become so focused on metrics like click-through rates that they’ve failed to see the big picture.

But this is a problem. Because at the end of the day, these metrics don’t matter to the people who sign off on your clients’ marketing budgets.

Why Solely Relying on Media Metrics Falls Short

Your clients want to see the impact of your media activities on revenue outcomes.

“The CFO is the one who holds the purse strings,” said Stephani Estes, the chief media officer at Goodway Group. “And what matters to a CFO is revenue growth and: ‘Are we actually moving the bottom line of the business?’

“Media metrics don’t tell us anything about how well we’re driving against the business outcome,” Stephani continued. “And so, they’re not enough in and of themselves.”

In other words, CFOs don’t care about media delivery metrics like impressions, clicks and reach at the end of the day. They care if marketing activities are impacting business growth and retention. If you can’t show how your campaigns are doing that for your client, you’re not showing your value. After all, they need to demonstrate the value of all their marketing activities to their CFOs — including activities you may be supporting.

Moreover, not aligning your strategies and results to business goals means that your campaigns ultimately may not be managed as effectively as those of your competitors.

Switch the Focus From Media to Marketing

“Agencies need to be talking to clients less about media execution and more about engineering business outcomes,” Amy O’Hara, the vice president of agency partnerships at Goodway, explained. “This requires a shift from media to marketing and all divisions of the agency getting on the same page. Focusing on media only is too narrow, only covers tactical results, and does not measure the outcomes that matter to the client. You need to go broader to speak the same language the client speaks.”

Marketing, on the other hand, focuses on the totality of all the assets and campaigns your clients have, along with overarching goals and measurement. Marketing metrics are more holistic, covering both leading and lagging indicators.

“The way I like to think about it is to root everything in those business objectives, not a media objective in a business objective. So, we really want to understand for our clients: What are we trying to solve from a business perspective? What problems do you see every day? Are there any questions you wish you knew the answers to?” Scott Blessman, the vice president of analytics and data insights at Goodway Group, said.

“How can we help you learn those answers so we can all make better decisions together? And really thinking about with our campaign goals — are they aligned as tightly as they should be to those business problems? So, how do we build this foundational model and really kind of ensure that everything’s filtering to those large goals?” Scott concluded.

When the conversation shifts to marketing instead of media, you focus on your clients and what they actually care about. You uncover their real goals and issues. You know what keeps them up at night and demonstrate how you can help.

Have the Right Measurement Strategy, Tools and Capabilities

This shift in focus should be reflected not only in your conversations with clients, but in your approach to measurement altogether.

Your measurement strategy should meet some, if not all, of these qualifications:

  • Be as holistic as possible.
  • Uncover the business objectives and goals of each client.
  • Tie metrics to the unique capabilities and strengths of every channel.
  • Find existing data connections between marketing and business tools.
  • Identify KPIs that individually relate to and contribute toward broader objectives.
  • Connect and triangulate different datasets together from various platforms, publishers and programs.
  • Incorporate continual testing, learning and refining throughout the customer journeys of your clients.
  • Leverage incrementality testing data and MMM insights to zero in on opportunities for enhancing campaign performance and better achieving client goals.

How To Do This

To create this strategy, you’ll need the right tools (such as software suites, dashboards, analytics, etc.), advanced knowledge and expertise of these tools, and an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each. You’ll also need in-house engineering, analytics and data science capabilities.

Keep in mind that this involves building or upskilling your team, knowing where you need to build your team, adding to your tech stack, and working with your client teams to stitch your data together with their data — and ensuring you have access to the right client data.

This may be a significant expense and likely won’t happen overnight, and you may not have the financial resources or internal know-how to identify where to begin. As a result, you may want to consider partnering with a full-service digital media partner with these measurement capabilities who can help you achieve your client goals.

Pivot From Media Metrics to Marketing Measurement

Solely providing media metrics falls short for clients who care about business impact. To demonstrate true value, agencies must shift focus from media delivery to marketing outcomes. This requires identifying client business goals, connecting campaign KPIs, utilizing tools for holistic measurement and testing/optimizing based on insights.

While challenging, taking a marketing-first approach enables agencies to showcase ROI and strengthen client relationships. With the right strategy and capabilities, agencies can pivot successfully from media metrics to outcomes-based, full-funnel marketing measurement.

To further strengthen your measurement strategy, dive into these resources:

Michelle Philippon headshot

Michelle Philippon is a content marketing manager at Goodway Group. A creative and results-driven marketer with a record for producing captivating content, Michelle loves working with Goodway’s internal subject matter experts (SMEs) to provide useful insights to help agencies power their marketing campaigns to achieve meaningful outcomes. Michelle has over 10 years of experience writing for both business and consumer audiences and previously worked at a B2B marketing agency. She lives in Cleveland, Ohio, where she enjoys reading, hiking through Cleveland’s many metroparks, making jewelry from sea glass and drinking way too much coffee.