New Ad Agency, New Ad Tech?

Changing ad agencies not only impacts your media buying and operations. It often means a change in your entire ad tech stack. What to consider if making a switch.

Travis Lusk
Travis Lusk

It has been a wild 12 months for obvious reasons. As many of you are actively experiencing, it is also becoming quite an agency pitch season. Brands are getting antsy and putting their business up for review.

When evaluating agency proposals and pitches, you are conducting a technology review as much as a media review.

If digital media is a cornerstone of your marketing activities, selecting a new media agency has very real ad technology considerations. Today, I'll provide a primer on what you should consider from a tech perspective in your next agency selection process.

Tech: To in-house or not in-house?

Before putting your digital account up for bid, you should first consider what (if any) key components of your ad tech stack should be brought in-house. Certain ad tech components are vendors that you will always need and are very unlikely to be differentiated from one agency to another.

For example, the ad server. Just about every display and video advertiser out there needs an ad server to serve, track, and manage creative. It is also the critical element in most digital attribution models measuring ad exposure and conversions.

Without naming names, most major ad servers in the marketplace today are excellent. They are also not differentiated. There are some ancillary features and capabilities that each uniquely brings to the table. But let's be honest, you can count all of the ad-serving companies worth knowing on the one hand, and you would probably only consider working with two of them.

What's your agency bring to the table? Probably a better rate than you could achieve on your own. In other words, the agency probably has a sweetheart rate card with the ad server that would be tough for you to get directions. But that's it.

So your options are:

  1. License through your agency and save a bit of money. However, you give up control of the data, the seat, etc. The license remains with the agency if you choose to leave.
  2. License direct. You will pay more for the privilege, but now you own it. It will move with you should you ever choose to switch agencies in the future.

Standard digital ad tech stack

Here's the list of technology solutions you are likely to encounter if you put your digital advertising business up for review/bid this year. If any of these components sound foreign to you, that's ok. However, it would be best to get in touch with your digital subject matter experts ASAP and include them in the pitch review process.

If you do not have solid subject matter expertise in-house (perhaps you've relied on the agencies for this knowledge), then you should consider bringing on a consultant to guide you through this process.

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