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3 Areas in Which the Brand-Agency Relationship Has Room to Evolve

The World Federation of Advertisers released a report last month that shows brands are taking more ownership over the areas of ad fraud, media transparency, viewability and brand safety, according to an article in AdAge. The report comes a year after a study by the ANA that outed rebates and non-transparent practices in media buying and forced marketers to reexamine their agency relationship.  Brands now seem to be conducting, or planning to conduct, more regular audits of their agencies' processes around finances and contracts.

This type of examination of partners is good and necessary. However, it doesn’t mean that agencies are being disintermediated. Agencies still have a role in brands’ digital marketing strategies, but they have to evolve in certain areas to keep pace with the new demands on the CMO.


Brands can get a picture of and centralize their data for use across their marketing efforts. You should find out where all of your first-party data lives—offline and/or CRM data, such as loyalty data, purchase histories, website analytics—and onboard and activate it.

Agencies can help brands in implementing a data management strategy. Better align needed data with their technology stack and share insights to improve future campaigns.

Some key questions to get you started: Are you activating your clients’ first-party data across as many channels as possible? Are you educating and helping clients layer on second- and third-party data to get a better picture of their customer profile? Do you clearly communicate with clients about how you collect and onboard data and the different ways it can be done?

Analytics and insights

Analytics are useless if they aren’t being actioned upon. The best thing brands can do is target quantifiable marketing goals, such as transaction events, brand awareness or purchase intent, and map how these align with business outcomes. Brands also have to keep their agencies on the hook, as they are doing according to the WFA report, and demand transparency into metrics and KPIs, but marketers should communicate goals up front. Focus on strategy so you don’t get caught up in tactics that don’t help you reach your goals.

Agencies should be constantly asking the question, What does this data point mean? and find ways to consistently generate insights—both online and offline—for clients.


Brands can consider consolidating technology into a single platform or vendor to better integrate data and media execution, take advantage of omnichannel execution and get insights all in one place. Brands working with agencies should also look into bespoke products that their partners may have developed with their technology providers (these are often based on differentiated assets, like proprietary data or curated supply). 

Image from Creative Commons

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