Former Carat chair Haydon Bray returns to market with a model that ‘no other media agency has even thought of’

Haydon Bray, media agency entrepreneur and former chair of Dentsu Aegis Network’s Carat, has re-entered the Australian market with Audience Precision, a media strategy and consultancy business with Warner Music as a foundation client.

Audience Precision’s model – which Bray, along with his founding team of five and equity partners has spent five years developing – doesn’t rely on commissions, media owner negotiations or demographic buying. Bray said he identified a gap in the local market, which “no other media agency has even thought of”, when he returned to an industry “in a worse state than when I left”, still marred by “murky deals and a legacy model”.

Bray left Carat 20 years ago

The company said the model “challenges the outdated media buying industry” and has well-established offices in New York and London. Now, it has introduced the offering to the Australian market.

“When I returned to the market, I found it in a worse state than when I left. It’s an industry overwhelmed by new platforms, hundreds of new reporting metrics and still marred by murky deals and a legacy model that hasn’t moved on since the 1990s. Real change was needed,” Bray said.

“Finding and targeting audiences has never been more fragmented and media is the single biggest marketing expense for most businesses. Media investments need to link to business outcomes, without a pre-determined media plan.

“Audience Precision rewrites the rule book. We use data – in fact 35,000 data points for each audience segment in multiple countries – combined with proprietary systems and machine learning to help marketers better understand audiences and potential customers, align their marketing efforts, optimise marketing expenditure and significantly reduce media wastage across all media channels. We’ve been able to do what no other media agency has even thought of to eliminate the guess work.”

There is further global expansion to come, said Bray, who became aligned with Carat in 1998 when he sold Bray Media to the Dentsu agency. Carat acquired Halmarick Media before Bray Media, and with the acquisitions, entered the local market.

Bray unexpectedly stepped down from his role as chair in 2000 and entered into legal negotiations with Carat after the agency allegedly repudiated his contract, according to The Australian Financial Review.

At Audience Precision, Bray, whose role is global CEO, has formed a team that includes Samantha Bolton as managing partner USA and UK, Laura Newman as global head of research, Alison Coleman as chief financial officer, Sean Gerraty as head of operations, and Jeremy Cath as chief technology officer.

The Audience Precision team

The agency also has strategy architects, researchers, data scientists, campaign engineers, software developers and media buyers.

CFO Coleman previously spent six years at Warner Music, whose artists have worked with Audience Precision to connect better with fans.

Tony Harlow, former global president of WEA Group at Warner Music, and now chair and CEO of Warner Music UK, said the agency has given Warner a “competitive advantage”.

“Fan engagement is increasingly at the heart of what we do – data insights around fans can play a huge part in marketing success,” Harlow said.

“Audience Precision has given us a competitive advantage on how we can reach and connect with fans. The data they provide is readily usable, easy to digest, and has made a real difference in helping us think harder and smarter about the way we market our music.”

Bray’s agency is also working with clients in other sectors, including entertainment, retail, health, tourism, and media. He said it is channel agnostic, does not conduct annual media owner negotiations and does not rely on media owner commissions, does not buy media based on demographics, uses machine learning to predict performance, and has minimal ad spend wastage.

“Our model moves the conversation from price and efficiency to deliver true value and return for advertisers and our work over the past five years has proven that it can build a sustainable competitive advantage of between 20% and 50%,” Bray said.

“Even with all the technology adoption in the advertising industry, consumer-based market research connected to top-level strategy has been virtually untouched by most agencies, yet this is one of the most important components of marketing.

“Our business is built around these key marketing essentials and we have developed proprietary technology and an end to end solution to help accelerate the process. We help brands align communication across their entire organisation to the core audiences that have a high propensity to become customers.”

The agency’s three pillars involve: DNA (more than 60 unique audience segments based on consumer lifestyle, psychographics and behavioural patterns), Precise 360 (building media strategies four times faster than a standard agency approach), and Activation and Analytics (buying media and reporting campaign performance against the DNA segments).


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