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Engaging External Digital Media Partners for the Win

(Part III) Adding third-party digital media logistics experts to a service provider adds another layer to the evolution of the industry. According to Craig Montgomery, principal of marketing strategy firm CMG partners, “It can be done, but it will take time and there will be some carnage along the way.”

Montgomery contends that adding outside support staff can and will happen if the process can be codified and commoditized. The first step is for a company to realize that digital media logistics is not its core competency and that service providers can do it better, for less.

“In reality, I think it will evolve much like other services,” he adds. “Some companies do media planning internally to maintain control; others hand it over it to an agency.  Some agencies outsource media planning.  It is actually no different than any other business decision for outsourcing.”

Montgomery notes that while there is an inherent risk in going outside your organization for anything, there is also a natural ebb and flow between centralization and fragmentation of services and products. “We are moving to the next stage of that process for digital media logistics,” he says. “In the beginning there was the full-service agency. Then there were digital and media planning agencies. If there is a market large enough to justify a specialization for outsourced services, then there will be somebody who will build that business to address that market.”

Agencies in particular are reluctant to surrender control of clients’ spending habits and strategy, especially when it involves branding. “The question,” Montgomery says, “is whether or not digital media logistics is the key.  I would venture to say perhaps no. Recently at a conference in London, Kevin Roberts, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide, stated that strategy is dead, the big idea is dead, management is dead and marketing, as we know, is also dead. Digital is part of marketing.

“The question an agency should ask is, does controlling digital media logistics solve the problem? The answer is no.  While I don’t think marketing is dead, I do think it needs to get back to its core principles. For agencies, this means that owning media logistics is not the answer. Insights and knowledge of how media impacts customers is the answer.”

Montgomery agrees that media logistics must be combined with campaign planning and buying, and connecting the brand with the publishers.  For this, partnering with an outsource provider makes more sense than the agency trying to do it in-house.

“As for the client,” he says. “It’s simple.  If it’s cheaper and provides parity in control with little proven risk over time to the brand or business – it wins.”