Media agencies need to mirror their clients in some ways but go further in others, according to Audrey Siegel, president and director of client services at TargetCast, in our latest Basics Q&A with a media-agency leader. Our conversation has been lightly edited.
Advertising Age: What's the biggest challenge up-and-coming media strategists face today?
Audrey Siegel: First and foremost, it's really staying current with the changing communication landscape -- and understanding it and how to bring these components together appropriately to address different brand and consumer needs. To do that, my basic belief is you always need to organize your own staff in similar fashion to how your clients operate. Up until recently clients were siloed between offline and online.
Ad Age: Now they're not?
Ms. Siegel: We have seen in past 12 months an increasing move on behalf of key clients like AMC, Pfizer and Lockheed Martin where they are more closely bringing together all their operations. Look at AMC. They have organized internally so the person responsible for shepherding communications for "Breaking Bad," for instance, is responsible for all communications -- online, offline, trade, consumer, local, national. They own the brand and that's similar for "Walking Dead" and "Mad Men."
That has enabled us to reorganize and realign our team to have both online and offline professionals on the same team organized by program to work with them in the way they operate. For us, that accelerates the training and development of our staff. We could have done a reorganization internally, but if the clients weren't ready for or open to unified individuals working on discrete programs, it would have been somewhat disjointed for them.
Ad Age: TargetCast has also recently been trying to fuse marketers' data on their customers with the information Nielsen picks up in its household surveys. What have you been finding, for your client Expedia, for example?
Ms. Siegel: We have all been chasing data fusion for a long time and we are all a little frustrated because there is always the distance between the brand's information and the other data reported.
With this effort, we were able to match the customer data, with all privacy aspects being adhered to, with Nielsen respondent-level data to the household. Because Expedia has such extensive records you can match up enough to get to a reliable and validated picture of a consumer. We wanted to get to the best opportunity for engagement with Expedia customers, not just on ratings by which TV networks are a better buy for an engaged Expedia customer. We were able to look at Expedia's competitors in a similar way to get a better sense of how well or how different we might be engaging in the TV marketplace vs. the competition.
Ad Age: How did the results compare to what Expedia thought it was getting?
Ms. Siegel: We have been able to add additional TV networks that heretofore had not necessarily looked like they would be strong performers. We added at least six networks that wouldn't necessarily have been on the buy or gotten as much activity as they will now, because they are better performers when I look at the brand-specific database rather than just generic demo data. We can then see areas where they may have stronger participation based on the data.