A Marriage of Media & Creative is the Future of Content Marketing | OLIVER

Beyond being uneasy bedfellows, media and creative rarely stepped into the same room.

This state of affairs is untenable, says Duncan Trigg, OLIVER Media Managing Director.

Instead, as consumers lose patience for irrelevant content, brands must derive business intelligence from programmatic media buying, and feed this directly into their creative process.

We spoke to Duncan Trigg to find out more…

Explain what we’re talking about in less than 20 words.

Content creation for programmatic media, informed by live audience segmentation.

Okay, now briefly wind it back for the uninitiated – explain programmatic media.

Your actions as a consumer are what starts the whole thing off.

Say you open a page and therefore create a media impression. If you fit certain criteria: age, location, purchasing history, etc., then you may well see an ad created with your audience segment in mind.

Sounds logical…

Yes, but all the while, the targeting and delivery of the campaign is generating business intelligence as to what works and what doesn’t, and for which audience segments.

This data could be used to generate better ads and ultimately better content.

So the creative is currently removed from media?

It staggers me that there’s no relationship between the people producing the content, and the people who target and buy the media space, thus dictating where it appears.

How can an advertiser produce relevant content if they’re unaware of how audience segments are responding to their ads and – crucially – how a targeted user behaves when they click through to the content? Not joining the content and creative to the user behaviour makes no sense.

If the creative team is fully aware of the targeting and information generated by the media buying process, the potential for waste reduction and increased efficiencies in programmatic advertising are massive.

So we’ve got three entities: the client, the creative agency and the media agency. Why aren’t they all working more closely?

It’s because of the siloed nature of the digital media industry.

A recent Ebiquity report[1] reported on a number of commercial practices which have become normal amongst media agencies, such as:

  • a lack of transparency on cost (i.e., buying media wholesale and selling it on at an invisible mark-up)
  • charging clients for undeclared under-delivery
  • concealing the true cost of supplier services such as technology etc.

Because of this, advertisers have no real knowledge of what the media they’re paying for is actually worth, and media agencies are now more profitable than they’ve ever been.

Dissatisfaction with the status quo has never been as high as it as.

And the silos help to keep those practices under wraps. But doesn’t that only apply to the client/media agency relationship? Why can’t agencies work more closely with clients?

Various reasons to do with data.

One is data protection. To give an example: a retail store has its own data sources: loyalty cards, ePOS, email data, etc.

From all those data sources, it’s possible to create refined audience segments of their highest value customers; but the problem is that this data often cannot legally leave the building, so it’s not utilised.

And meanwhile there are other third-party data sources, demand- and supply-side, held and accessed by media agencies but incomprehensible to creatives, content producers and clients.

This is why advertisers put so much trust in media agencies, to wade through this complexity and do the best job at managing it all for them.

Sounds bleak. What can be done?

Well, you could build your own technology. Smithkline Beecham was one of the first UK brands to do this and I believe that in five years the vast majority of significant media spenders will have their own tech for buying media space and placing ads.

But that’s not a complete solution because your creative agency still needs to understand and react to your own data, and you still have to manage that third-party data.

What about off-the-shelf solutions?

There’s loads – data management platforms and demand-side platforms such as Xaxis and Rocketfuel and an almost infinite number of others.

The point is, everything is doable, but everything is disconnected, and nobody has an incentive to clear it up because they make over-inflated margins under the current system.

So the onus to do the business intelligence remains with the client.

You’re echoing a sentiment expressed recently by Debbie Morrison of the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers[2]:

“We’re at a tipping point… I don’t believe that media agencies have got the best interests of their client at heart anymore.”[3]

But that begs the question: with so many separate vested interests, why would anyone clear this up?

Because it’s better for consumers and its better for the digital media industry as a whole. The cost of delivery, inflated by mark-ups, kick-backs, over-invoicing., etc, combined with low viewability rates, all means less and less money gets spent on the media that is actually ‘doing the work’.

It’s my view that digital media is not credited with its true effectiveness, due to this lack of transparency and thus wasted advertiser budget.

If advertisers can connect their data streams together, they can understand and identify more precise audience segments. This intelligence can and should be used in the creation of more relevant ads and potentially even bespoke content for the various targeted audiences, rather than generic content.

This, in turn, will allow advertisers to bid more accurately and generate a more reliable ROI.

But is that really better for consumers? Isn’t there a risk this could backfire?

Say multiple brands have the perfect data on one individual consumer – aren’t they then going to spend more on their ads and won’t the consumer get bombarded?

It’s the other way around.

Adblocking has come about because advertising is so utterly irrelevant to the consumer. You’re currently exposed thousands of ads every day, and that’s why click-through rates are falling.

But if you take steps to make paid advertising part of the user journey, everything’s more powerful. The user’s less annoyed, the advertising works harder, you don’t waste millions on paid ads.

Final thought?

The industry’s going to have to go through a step-change:  from advertising in the cheapest possible inventory that might attract your target demographic and hoping someone sticks to the wall, to being intelligent with relevant offers and more bespoke content. And equally, media owners have to deliver ads in a way that isn’t obtrusive.

Yeah, there’s a bit of big brother about it but that’s far outweighed by the benefits to the consumer.


Duncan Trigg, Managing Director OLIVER Media


Duncan joined OLIVER in November 2016 on a mission to help brands produce more effective content marketing by bringing paid media advertising into the client’s world.

He’s been working in digital advertising since 1997, most recently as as a Senior VP at comScore. He also co-founded Unanimis, the digital display advertising network, and has sat on the board of Captify for three years.


Find out more

Interested in boosting your content marketing with smarter programmatic media? Drop Duncan an email and he’ll be in touch.



[1] http://www.ebiquity.com/media/186458/accountability-transparency-in-media-today.pdf

[2] http://www.isba.org.uk/

[3] https://www.ft.com/content/cd98d3ba-0c7b-11e6-9456-444ab5211a2f


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