The answer is yes. Advertising and media agencies have been taking a beating. Ad Age and AdWeek are filled with stories about competition from completely new players, outdated agency models, a lack of talent and creativity and big firms losing their sway to smaller players.
Sounds like it’s time for agencies to wake up and start leading the disruption the industry so badly needs. Agencies need to stand out in a creative way and provide more insightful and long-term client solutions. Those ready to embrace the future need consumer insights to give new life to how they communicate with existing and potential clients’ consumers.
How the agency competition has changed
We all know that many brands are ditching their big agencies for smaller teams that can offer something a little more creative and targeted. One recent example was Popchips, which had been using Palisades, a $350M media agency. It moved to PK4 Media, a 10-person firm because, like many other companies, Popchips is more interested in who they are reaching rather than just reaching large masses of people. Popchips CEO Marc Seguin told Digiday that the discount rates on impressions Popchips used to get from the large agencies didn’t help the company fulfill its goals. Now the snack company is trying to make an emotional connection with its target audience of health-conscious women. So, who is reached is more important than the number of platforms used, or the total number of impressions achieved.
And we all know the threat from consulting firms like Deloitte and Accenture now offering agency services is very real. Accenture Interactive grew 35% in 2017 and reached $6.5 billion in revenue, making it the biggest digital agency in the world. Expect that to continue as the percentage of marketers who say they would hire one of these consulting firms for agency work has almost doubled from 44% in 2016 to 77% in 2017, according to Forrester.
The new way to compete
Agencies need to compete on their ability to be data aware, data conversant and data relevant. This is where consumer insights are essential. But only if those consumer insights provide the why behind a consumer’s buying decisions. We call this the Human Element, which is a deep understanding of the consumer through the lens of their core values and motivations. In other words, it’s getting to the “what” that drives the emotional “why.” With several thousand attributes in our platform, describing more than 175 million US consumers, Resonate’s intelligence distills the Human Element.
Imagine the cut-throat competition among coffee shops out there. They’re all trying to understand the lure of one coffee place over another for caffeine-craving consumers. We can help develop in-depth personas of coffee consumers across the US. For example, Resonate’s insights show that people who get their coffee at Caribou Coffee, Pete’s and Starbucks are 81% more likely than the average consumer to volunteer for a cause.
When making purchases, this same group of coffee lovers considers these top three psychological drivers: social and professional status, living an exciting life and getting recognition from their peers. Their top reasons for visiting these coffee shops: for a treat, it’s convenient and it’s just their usual spot to grab coffee. We can also pull from our insights that they spend 20-40 hours online per week and their top social media consumption is with Tumblr, Snapchat and Reddit.
We can now build the persona of an individual who after a morning spent working on a charitable cause heads to the local coffee shop with like-minded friends for a treat as a personal reward. Having deeper insight like this can help creatives produce more relevant messaging that truly resonates more quickly with a target audience. Rather than reaching a larger swath of people, these deep consumer insights provide better messaging to the people who matter most to the brand because we know what they care about and the media they consume.
Consumer insights change the game
Resonate’s insights come from two powerful types of data: consumer surveys and streams of online consumer activity. Resonate runs continuous waves of long-form surveys throughout the year that yield hundreds of thousands of responses from people who have double opted-in to participate. The goal of these surveys is to get not only basic demographic variables, purchasing and political preferences but also to understand why they made those decisions and the values that guide those decisions.
We then turn to online activity to complete the story at scale. Resonate analyzes tens of billions of web events each day linked to the survey respondents. These events and activities are anonymous and compliant with all consumer privacy principals. Our platform analyzes the anonymous web traffic processed through our natural language processing and looks for keywords to understand the page that the person visited. Then machine learning takes their survey responses and their web activity to create predictive models that help marketers understand and connect with their target audiences. Typically, by the time research like this gets to the marketer, it’s several months old. Our proprietary data is updated daily, so it’s the most up-to-date in the industry.
Consumer insights should also be accurate, and agencies will need to address this with their clients. We estimate that 20% of survey data is bad based on what happens when human beings sit down to take a survey. A lot can go wrong. Resonate uses a proprietary “fraud score” to find that bad data in our own surveys so we can ensure that the insights we’re providing are the closest measure of consumers. With more accuracy comes better targeting, which is top of mind for brands. Being able to deliver messages that resonate will be key for turning campaigns into CLV for agency clients.
Agencies, the uprising is upon you. Take this opportunity to give brands what they really want – creativity, personalization, innovation, accuracy and transparency. Consumer insights that show the “why” behind consumer behaviors are key. Resonate’s SaaS platform will help agency clients connect with their targets more accurately and quickly and make the job of agency creatives more efficient with better consumer insights.