Agencies taking greater control of client retargeting amid trend to bring digital in-house

Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 8.11.43 AMMedia agencies are starting to take greater control of their clients’ retargeting campaigns as they seek to add more value and combat the threat of losing the business.

Adam Berke, one of the founders of retargeting firm AdRoll and now its president and chief marketing officer, said agencies are starting to act like small and medium sized businesses (SMB) by building their expertise and adopting a more “hands on” approach.

The global trend comes comes as brands are increasingly looking to bring programmatic technology in-house, he said.

Berke, on a week long visit to Australia – a market he described as an “unprecedented success” since it opened early last year – said: “Agencies, in some sense, are starting to behave more like SMBs in that they want to be hands on with the tools we offer. It is an area where they are starting to add a lot of value.

“They are becoming experts in different software platforms, AdRoll being one of them.”

The trend aligns with AdRoll’s “heritage” in building “self-service campaign management interfaces”, with the back up of AdRoll staff, Berke said.

AdRoll provides support in the form of best practice guidelines and help with strategy, but the “agency can add value by understanding how to pull the levers and setting up campaigns”, he told Mumbrella.

The firm’s Australia and NZ managing director Ben Sharp added: “We’ll go and speak to an agency and educate them on how to use the Adroll platform. They will then go away and manage a lot of campaigns themselves. They can do everything in the dash board themselves but they can also call their account manager when they have questions or need advice.”

The development of digital expertise within agencies comes as brands are increasingly taking technology in house, a move branded a global trend by Berke.

“There is a trend of bringing technology in-house but that has become a euphemism,” he explained. “It doesn’t mean building the technology in-house, They are licensing the same technology but using it directly. Bringing it in house means they are taking it away from the agency.”

AdRoll-logoBerke dismissed suggestions that brands may soon have the expertise to develop their own retargeting technology, arguing such complex systems are not core to their business.

“It just doesn’t make sense because other companies have solved problems at scale,” he said. “There will be a continuing trend of brands having access to the technology but the technology itself will still be made by those focused on solving specific problems.”

Turning to its Australian operation which launched 15 months go, Berke said the decision to expand into a market traditionally snubbed by ad tech companies had been vindicated.

AdRoll found “pent up demand” among marketers which has translated into strong growth, he said.

“From a global perspective we view Australia as an unprecedented success. Traditionally Australia wasn’t one of the top regions that ad tech companies invested into. It has exceeded our expectations,” Berke said.

“There is a lot of pent up demand. We are seeing evidence of that with the growth of our accounts and the growth within those accounts.”

He rejected the commonly-held belief that Australia lags behind the US and European markets in the retargeting space, insisting there is a “savvyness” in the market.

“Marketers are ravenous and eager to try new things,” Berke said, adding that AdRoll was benefitting from “many tailwinds” in Australia, including the growing appetite of media to trial programmatic.

The company declined to reveal detailed growth figures for Australia although Sharp claimed its number of client has increased from 850 at the start of the year to 1000. In addition, revenue figures climbed 300 per cent in its first 10 months to December and has doubled again since the turn of the 2015, he said.

“We have 20,000 active advertisers globally and considering our Sydney office is only a year old and we have been in other places for six or seven years, that is really impressive growth,” Berke said.

The focus for AdRoll remained the continual drive to deliver improved results for advertisers, a strategy demonstrated by the launch last month of a new version of its dynamic bidding platform, BidIQ.

The upgraded systems are focused on viewability. A viewable add is one where 50 per cent of the ad is in view for a second.

“We don’t have long term contracts so if we don’t drive performance advertisers will leave us,” Berke acknowledged. “We have been primarily orientated around CTR (click through rate) but as it turns out doing a concerted pus around viewability ended up helping CTR.”

AdRoll produced figures from the Media Rating Council which claimed BidIQ delivered a 37 per cent increase in ad viewability, with CTRs rising 46 per cent.

Steve Jones


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