Tom Denford
By Tom Denford
Oct 15, 2015 10:31:33 AM

Data Transparency Spearheads Global Media Rethink


In a recent interview with ID Comms Chief Strategy Officer talks data transparency…

Wherever you go in digital marketing circles, it won’t take long for conversations to turn to the billions of dollars worth of global media agency deals all up for renewal at the same time. A couple of the world’s largest advertising groups seeking a new global media deal might be considered a coincidence, but several might well be considered a trend.

Tom Denford, Chief Strategy Officer of ID Comms, advises clients looking for the best global media deals. Last year he advised AB Inbev on reassigning its $1bn annual global media deal, and he is currently involved in Johnson & Johnson’s $2bn global media review. He has noticed two areas he believes marketers should be aware of when thinking about their relationship with their media agency, even if they are not part of the current trend to renegotiate deals.

The most important one is data. Since many global deals were signed three to five years ago, the typical CMO has come to learn they need to be a lot more involved in accessing and controlling the data that arises from campaigns. There is also the secondary issue that many have found some global deals extend into creative agency tie-ins which they can find restrictive.


“Data and transparency are probably the biggest issues in all of this because they underline how the agency and advertiser relationship is fundamentally different from how it was just a handful of years ago”

Tom Denford


“The global media deals make a lot of sense because they give brands space for a lot less money. It’s why brands go to agencies in the first place,” Denford says. “The problem has been that they have often gone beyond media and encompassed data management, strategy and creative. So, my observation is a lot of CMOs have been annoyed that they’ve had to deal with creative agencies they wouldn’t normally want to work with.”

Advice For Today

His other main observation is that brands are concerned they can lose sight of the data their campaigns create, which they have come to realise can help target potential customers much more effectively in the past. Hence his advice is for brands to insist that a trading desk offers as much data transparency as possible to ensure they are getting all the insights learned through their campaigns and their rivals are not.

“Data and transparency are probably the biggest issues in all of this because they underline how the agency and advertiser relationship is fundamentally different from how it was just a handful of years ago,” he says.

“Brands want to know they are getting back all the data they generate because it’s the oil of modern marketing. They also want to know if a trading desk will take the lessons their budget helped it learn and apply it to a rival. That’s why every CMO needs to be aware they should not just be asking for transparency but backing it up with data audits to ensure as much transparency as possible.”

Transparency Trend

From a holding company point of view, this year’s rush to re-think global deals has underlined one thing. Relationships between agencies and brands are changing and will eventually be unrecognisable from those we have today. That’s according to Ben Wood, Global President of digital agency iProspect (owned by Dentsu Aegis).

“A lot of good digital marketing people at brands are seeing they can sort out their creative and then plug in to a programmatic platform which feeds information back to their own data management platform,” Wood says.

“It’s playing a part right now, but I don’t think that is going to dominate this round of reviews. However, as programmatic becomes more prevalent it will mean brands are going to seriously ask what they need a media agency for. In the future I think media agencies will have to act a lot more like an Accenture or a Deloitte. Instead of selling their own services they’ll be expected to help brands build their own capabilities with some strategy and consulting thrown in.”

The big take-out, both Denford and Woods agree, is that CMOs need to be far more interested in the data media campaigns generate. The information needs to be made available exclusively to the brand which put up the money to discover it and should not be shared with rivals. The best way to do this is to insist on transparency backed up by media audits.

This way of working is soon going to become second nature, they both predict, as the mega-brands’ newly-renegotiated deals ensure that working in any other way will appear unthinkable.

This article was originally published on on 5th October 2015