How media agencies 'got a bad name,' according to a media agency exec
For the first decade of her career, Louisa Wong worked at pioneering digital media outlets in the U.K., starting with CNet and then Sky. A decade ago, she took that media experience with her when she crossed over to the agency “dark side.” Today, as chief operating officer at Carat USA, Dentsu Aegis Network’s flagship media agency, she is responsible for the agency’s digital strategy, product and automation agenda.
“I like change and I like disruption and what better industry to be in?” says Wong on the “Ad Lib” podcast, where she is the latest guest. Born in Taiwan, Wong lived in Singapore before being brought up largely in the U.K. “I was raised in different cultures and I think that’s really helped me in my career and where that led me today,” she says. Of her start on the publishing side of the industry, she says, "The constant change and learning about what’s happening on the internet, that is a passion point for me.”
There’s plenty for Wong to be passionate about, and in a wide-ranging conversation, she weighed in on everything from data to addressable TV; AI and blockchain to privacy and regulation; and life in a post-cookie world.
“This is where media agencies get a bad name: That we just buy ads and that’s it and we’re not thinking about the actual user experience. Now, through data, we can have closer partnerships and conversations with media owners to do just that,” she says. In 2016, Denstu Aegis Network acquired a majority stake in Merkle, the Maryland-based data-driven performance marketing agency. In the years since, it has, she says, changed the way they think about media activation and the way they create value for clients.
“The way you create value is you be value-based on the consumer, not just on the content,” she says. “The content piece is still really critical and the two need to be married together.”
“Data’s not threatening at all,” she says. “There is an element of, ‘How do we empower the consumer with more knowledge?’ I do believe companies like Facebook, Amazon and Google have a responsibility to do this. How are they helping consumers understand what they can and can’t control? … This is where legislation has a role to play. There needs to be creative governance around it. What we don’t want is another Cambridge Analytica. What we do want is much more responsible marketing.”
On TV and measurement
“It is still a reach medium,” she says. “The agencies, the clients are all challenging some of the measurement providers out there, and the metrics which we’re judging them on. We need to change the way we do things as it pertains to TV measurement, because it can’t just be based on reach and frequency. As more media becomes addressable, the ability to quantify what engagement looks like, the value of a household, this all becomes very real. But that requires partnership and collaboration by the networks.”