Partnerships, Partnerships, Partnerships!

by Malcolm Cowley
January 14, 2013

Digital agencies set to lead the gold rush on enterprise marketing software

In a recent report titled Establish New Agency Partnerships, Forrester analyst David M. Cooperstein asserts, “Building a 21st century brand requires marketers to form new types of relationships with agencies. As with the fast-changing technology landscape, it’s up to marketers to stay current with the fast changing ecosystem of agencies that are continually reinventing themselves to serve clients’ most pressing needs.”

This reality creates a simple mandate for digital marketing and advertising agencies everywhere: establish new technology partner relationships that address your clients’ most pressing needs.

As CMOs at leading global brands re-evaluate both their existing and future agency relationships, leaders at digital marketing and advertising agencies need to look at their technology partnerships and understand which companies and solutions provide real value to the agency’s clients. these partners, once identified, will also help the agency win new global business.

Independent of the issue of agency relationships, many CMOs are already adapting to the fast-changing technology landscape by taking advantage of SaaS software platforms that provide scale, centralization and real-time insights. These kinds of solutions unlock the potential to reach consumers through growing digital-marketing channels like search, affiliate and display.

But identifying SaaS solutions to track and manage “big data” from performance-marketing campaigns is only one side of the overall equation. CMOs that oversee performance marketing campaigns are also realizing the benefits of adopting an all-in-one global solution that includes things like payments and in-market tech support. For international brands, questions like, “can we pay in Yuan to a performance partner in Shanghai?” and “can our local team receive live tech support in Mandarin?” are fast becoming equally important considerations.

Whether a CMO is just exploring new marketing technology solutions, or already has a new infrastructure in place, the challenge lies in how to manage performance-marketing campaigns in a way that allows a brand to concentrate on its core competencies and to continue to scale globally. Agencies that can provide a response to this challenge for both existing and potential clients have uncovered a  tremendous opportunity. They are able to address what is now a pressing need for all global brands and therefore become an attractive option for CMOs looking to establish new agency partnerships. The software company provides the “plumbing” and the agency in effect becomes the “contractor”, pulling the levers to drive the best results for their client.

For agencies, the benefits of recommending and/or managing an appropriate enterprise-level performance marketing software solution for current and potential clients are clear. They are able to remain technology-agnostic and don’t need to engage in trying to build out multiple best-in-breed technologies in–house, which is unlikely to be a core strength. This much-needed value-add solidifies existing client relationships and makes the agency an attractive choice to CMOs searching for a firm that understands and can support new digital marketing objectives, strategies and tactics. CMOs understand and perceive real benefits when they work with an agency that can both design and implement global performance marketing campaigns on the front end and manage the program’s important analysis, insights and support services on the back end.

We have entered an era that Mr. Cooperstein calls “adaptive marketing”. It is driven by social media and digital proliferation. He says, “This era will force yet another change in the expectations placed on marketing agencies to deliver.”

Just as CMOs are under pressure to make decisions based on big data, new marketing trends and global growth; so ad agencies are perfectly positioned to nurture this shift. Forming strategic partnerships now with the software winners of tomorrow makes a whole lot of sense for agencies, and those that adapt the quickest will undoubtedly secure a long-term competitive advantage.

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About Malcolm Cowley

Malcolm is CEO and co-founder of Performance Horizon Group (PHG), a leading provider of real-time performance marketing technology to some of the world’s biggest brands. Prior to PHG, Malcolm co-founded the highly successful affiliate marketing network, which AOL acquired in 2008. As CEO of PHG, Malcolm oversees all aspects of the company’s global growth. For more information, visit or follow at @tweetphg

View all posts by Malcolm Cowley

One Response to “Partnerships, Partnerships, Partnerships!”

  1. Sean Says:

    I’ve been speaking with a lot of big brands lately and they are putting an awful lot of pressure on their technology vendors to work together to form “super products” Everybody has an API and they are expecting everyone to work together. Who will pay for the integration costs? These are questions that often come up. In addition, most technology vendors don’t have any interest in working on integrating other products with their software; they rather focus on making their product better. There are certain services and marketing activities that make sense when it comes to partnering. One example that I can across lately is Outbrain and Scribits. Sciribtis is a content curation platform and Outbrain provides the analytics. If you’re either a curation platform or analtyics platform good luck selling into this super team.