With client needs changing by the minute amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, media agencies are being forced to do an impossible job of juggling short-term urgencies with long-term strategic thinking. Initiative’s Chief Partnerships Officer Maureen Bosetti spoke with Winmo CEO Dave Currie to share where she’s seeing media dollars shifting, plus what vendors can do to help. Check out the full conversation, or read the recap below.
What has this period been like for Initiative?
“The last few weeks have been us triaging, making sure that we’re either cancelling their media, shifting their media, changing out the creative, just making sure that we’re there for our clients and reacting to whatever need that they have.”
The challenge that agencies like Initiative face is balancing the critical short term needs with longer term, big picture thinking. “We’re doing what we need to do to react for them in real time, while making sure that they understand the larger context of what’s going on in terms of the marketplace and trends we’re seeing.”
Shifting to Where Consumers Are
“With cancellation of certain big events, like sports, or different award shows, that money has gone back into areas where we’re seeing growth – like online video or OTT or even other television channels. The consumption patterns make sense, and clients are really trying to shift into where the viewers are,” said Bosetti.
“Radio has been impacted, because obviously people aren’t driving as much, but does that shift to in-home streaming audio or podcasts? That’s something we’re looking into. While traditional radio may be suffering, it just means re-looking at what audio means for certain clients, and that may be different than what they’ve done in the past.”
Media Vendors: Avoid Compounding Information Overload
Agency executives like Bosetti are on the receiving end of an endless supply of information from media vendors, and we were interested to hear how that’s changed, or if it’s changed.
“All of our partners have been great about setting up time, talking through our clients challenges. Everybody has leaned in and provided great information. I think we need to make sure that it’s simplified as much as possible right now. I think we’re all just getting a bit overwhelmed with content. So less is more at times.”
What Initiative is dealing with is what many agencies at the intersection of publishers and brands are dealing with. The key for vendors is to simplify the information they’re providing into what’s actionable, with key take-aways and next steps.
“I’m getting 10-15 emails a day with updates, trends, requests to talk about something. So we’re trying to make sure we’re communicating, collect the information from our partners, but we need a way to distill it in a way that’s simplified and actionable.”
With agencies having to deconstruct and repackage the information for clients, there are extra steps that vendors can help agencies avoid.
What Can Sellers Do to Initiate Relationships?
Over the past couple of weeks, evaluating offerings from new media providers has taken a backseat, but Bosetti urges sellers to be patient.
“I would encourage partners to continue to reach out, but have patience, because the teams are trying to navigate so many different challenges in real time. As things hopefully turn a bit back to normal we’ll be able to turn our attention to making sure we have that consistent engagement with new partners.”
The Challenge of KPIs
Real-time KPIs are important as consumption is shifting rapidly, but what do the metrics mean for the big picture? Not much. “This won’t be a pattern,” said Bosetti. “This’ll become an irregularity. If you’re looking at search trends, what we’re seeing now is different than what’s happened in the past or what will happen in the future. I just got off of a call with Google and they were showing us that people are searching for DIY products at 1am, or for food recipes or things like that. So the irregularity of what they’re searching for and the times they’re searching will cause some anomalies so we’re going to have to parse this out and separate it a bit.”
“Certain categories like retail and QSR are being impacted by the inability to use location data. The KPIs are non-existent right now. People are trying to use more real-time metrics versus things like brand awareness or brand consideration, which are more long-term metrics.”
She has also seen a rise in the value of social sentiment. “Getting that real-time social impact is really critical. Our UPS client [for example] is really listening to what people are asking for, has been a bigger component of their media mix than it had been in the past.”