I'm a partner in the advanced analytics group at Bain & Company, the global management consulting firm. My primary focus is on marketing analytics (bio). I've been writing here (views my own) about marketing, technology, e-business, and analytics since 2003 (blog name explained).

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October 15, 2010

Extending Marketing Integration to Agencies: The "Agency API" @rwlord #rzcs

My friends at Razorfish kindly invited me to their client summit in Boston this week.  It was a great event; they and their clients are working on some pretty cool stuff.  Social is front and center.  Close behind: lots of interesting touch / surface computing innovations (Pranav Mistry from the MIT Media Lab really blew our minds). 

In his opening comments Wednesday, Razorfish CEO Bob Lord made the point that for modern marketing to be effective it's got to be integrated across silos of course; but, further, that this has to extend to having agencies work together effectively on behalf of their clients, as much as clients responsible for different channels and functions need to themselves.

I've been wondering about this as well recently, and Bob's comments prompted me to write up some notes.

One observation is that *if* marketers are addressing agency collaboration, they usually start with an *organizational* solution that brings agencies together from time to time.   While this is great, it's insufficient.  To make entities like these effective, it helps to lay a foundation that *registers* and *reconciles* different aspects of what agencies have and do for their clients.  This foundation, realized through a simple, cheap tool like Basecamp if not the marketer's own intranet system, could include:

  • a data registry.  Agencies executing campaigns on behalf of their clients end up controlling data sets (display ad impressions and clicks, email opens, TV ratings, focus group / panel results) that are crucial to understanding the performance of marketing investments, but are typically beyond the scope of what IT's "enterprise data architectures" encompass.  I'm not suggesting that agencies need to ship this data to their clients; rather, that they simply register what's collected, who's got it, and how a client can get it if needed.
  • an insight registry.  Agency folks crunch data into fancy powerpoints bearing the insights on which campaign decisions get made.  It would be very helpful if these decks were tagged and linked from the appropriately-permissioned online workspace.
  • a campaign registry.  Think http://adverblog.com, only for the marketer's own (and perhaps direct competitors') campaigns of any stripe.  A place to put creative briefs and link to campaign assets / executions that implement them.

These approaches are simple, cheap, and "many hands make light work".  Implementing them collectively as a marketer's "Agency API" would help marketers and agencies to "reconcile" their work, in the following ways:

  • discover campaign conflicts and integration opportunities
  • unpack possible disagreements into manageable bites to resolve -- data conflicts, insight conflicts, analytic technique conflicts, creative brief conflicts
  • better prepare in advance of "interagency council" meetings

Of course the registries are not a panacea for inter-agency "issues" that a marketer needs to sort through, but they help to make any problematic issues more transparent and straightforward to focus on.  

Please take the poll below.  Reactions / suggestions welcome from folks with relevant experience!



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Great post -- one of the lingering problems in online marketing + ecom is the layer cake effect of different teams (internal and external) acting as silos while the customer moves across the silos. Its great that an agency is pushing to try and get this problem fixed. Would have big implications for the efficiency and effectiveness of OLM, site metrics, and CRM. But of course getting everyone to play nicely and share in the sandbox is easier said than done...

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