At first read, this is going to appear to be an article about P&G. To be clear, it is not – even though some of the moves they’ve been making were the inspiration for this post.
From the press coverage I’ve seen it seems like P&G has been telegraphing these moves for a year or more, but in the past three months there’s been a steady stream of news regarding how P&G is transforming how they work with ad agencies, and in fact applying pressure to the entire ad agency model. These include announcements that P&G is…
- Bringing more of its media agency work in-house (including dropping 50% of agencies) as it continues to cut agency fees
- Cutting another $400 million in agency production costs (though it is unclear to me if this is a part of, or completely separate from, the first bullet point above, though it seems like a little bit of both)
- Consolidating agencies from different ad holding companies to form a new creative agency
Many would argue this is an opportunity to think about ad agencies differently, and maybe (probably?) it is. Realizing that ad agencies are multi-faceted things, it does seem like it’s an inflection point for at least elements of the industry.
But just as important, I’d argue that it’s time for companies to transform how they think about data. Embedded in these changes from P&G are a challenge to agencies, brands and retailers to also manage their data differently. The key analogs for data include:
- Eliminating data silos: If I think about the sum total of Numerators’s clients, I’d say they are typically looking to use the data we provide to either protect or promote their offer. But typically “protect” and “promote” sit in different areas of the organization, even if they’d benefit from the same information. The truth is data responsibility needs to continue to migrate higher within organizations, to allow for both tactical and strategic applications.
- Thinking omnichannel: A direct adjunct to eliminating data silos, too often the digital information we provide flows toward one team within an organization, and brick & mortar marketing intelligence to another. But as consumers increasingly become omnichannel – agnostic to how they acquire products beyond whatever fits a given need state – the data sets need to be managed in unison.
- Gaining path to purchase visibility: For both agencies and marketing teams, often the data focus is exclusively on understanding other advertising in the marketplace, and how their work stacks up. But the truth is advertising is a driver, not an outcome, and it needs to be connected to other elements of the purchase funnel – from promotions to pricing intelligence to even sales. Conversely, teams focused on trade promotions ought to give more weight to advertising that generates awareness and persuades consumers to move through the purchase funnel. Anyway, you get the idea.
- Making a consistent data commitment: A number of our clients have teams dedicated to data; for the majority, though, data are a part-time job, to occur when there’s no “real work” to do. In a world where CMOs have judged data and analytics to be a bigger contributor to a company’s performance than social media, it seems like commitment to data-driven decisions should be increasing and not stuck in neutral.
One of the places where Numerator is seeing this convergence is on the digital shelf. More and more, we’re seeing clients view the digital shelf as an omnichannel ad vehicle that both persuades consumers and converts to purchase – in both the digital and brick and mortar realms.
P&G’s move to reshape its agency relationships should not be seen so much as a warning shot as a wake-up call – to agencies, clearly, but also to any company that provides or makes use of market intelligence data. Because while the revolution will be televised, it will also be in print, on the internet, app-based, and not available in any store unless it’s coming soon to a store near you. A consolidated, omnichannel view of data is a window into that new world order.