Can Media Innovation Actually Inspire a Creative Revolution?

Today’s digital transformation on hyperdrive demands a new kind of integrated agency

Digital consumption is through the roof.

“We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. McKinsey calls it “the quickening,” observing 10 years of ecommerce growth in the U.S. in three months. Streaming, CTV, podcasts, digital news, social and gaming are all accelerating as home life and work life collide. 

The ever-expanding media ecosystem of automated platforms, channels and publishers generates millions of data points every second. With this, a revolution of next-generation creatives is emerging. They draw inspiration from digital media innovation, data sophistication and performance feedback. 

This is shifting the agency dynamic. Creative, media and data teams now must operate as one. Brands demand this type of advanced thinking because it’s how they grow.

Here are five steps to take on your journey to agency integration:

1. Level the playing field

Find creative champions who believe they can produce a better product if they know how it performs; people who will put ego aside to collaborate with media and data professionals within the organization.

When you put creative, media and data together on the same playing field, these teams shift their focus from maintaining their discipline’s core responsibilities to working together to solve problems throughout the buyer’s journey.

This is something we personally faced. For more than 20 years, our agency was squarely focused on media. We often struggled with creative delivery that couldn’t keep up with our media channel innovation. So, we searched for creative talent that was fueled as much by analyzing every step of the buyer’s journey across this new media universe as by the advertising message itself. Pairing creatives with proven media and data professionals literally changed us from “Just Media” to just “JUST.”

2. Build an integrated framework

Operating in silos is a death knell for modern marketers. It will keep you stuck and you’ll be unable to get your ideas off the ground.

Identify your goals across all stages of your customers’ purchase journey. Then build an outline for each stage. Within it, align messaging strategy, creative needs, media channel usage, data targeting and a test-and-learn measurement plan. 

You want moonshot ideas, but without a strategic framework to advance your business goals, even the best creative concepts won’t result in brand growth.

3. Propose creative for each media channel

Most big creative ideas still are not digital-first thinking. That’s because traditional media formats are easier to concept and splashier to present to clients. Everyone loves a good 30-second spot or a billboard. However, there are thousands of media opportunities to interact with customers that should not be ignored.

Does your agency present creative ideas that work for programmatic, social, SEM, native, multi-length video cuts, digital OOH, etc.? What about the nuances within these channels? Is the messaging aligned with specific KPIs?

With creative, one size does not fit all.

4. Prepare to adapt in real time  

What if campaign briefs included the necessity for real-time and iterative creative and media development?

As marketers move from pure demographic and behavioral targeting to real-time, intent-based targeting, your teams will need to adjust messages on the fly.

There is a seismic difference in creative development and media strategy between a passive 30-second linear TV placement for a mass audience and a social video campaign hyper-targeted to various intent-based audiences.

The goal is content delivered at the right time, in the right context, for the right purpose. When done correctly and leveraging the available tools, it provides the efficiencies that CMOs love.

5. Respect the art form

With a hefty focus on media, platforms, data and automation, be sure to find the careful balance between data and creativity, while leaving room for the emotional reaction that inspiring creative sparks.

There is a brilliance to the digital “quickening” that is sparking a creative revolution. But to harness the full potential of this vast new media experience, agencies must adapt to the new dynamic and integrate the disciplines of creative, data and media.  

Brandon Friesen has over 20 years’ experience delivering business growth for brands. As CEO of JUST, he is responsible for pioneering the agency’s evolution from specialty media buying and planning to integrated marketing capabilities. He is a customer-focused business executive with a successful track record across a myriad of disciplines, mostly centered around the technology, marketing, media, content and publishing ecosystems.