Media Buying Briefing: Topics we’ll tackle at the Media Buying Summit next week

This article is part of Digiday’s coverage of its Digiday Media Buying Summit. More from the series →

Now that we’re approaching the final month of first quarter 2024, the time is right for the media agency world to come together to discuss the big issues facing the industry this year and beyond. The chance, if you haven’t already signed up, comes next week when Digiday hosts its twice-yearly Media Buying Summit, from March 4-6 in Nashville.

Featuring a broad and diverse cast of speakers and presenters, next week’s DMBS stage will host holding company executives, independent media agency leaders, clients and ad-tech experts who will share their knowledge, best practices and experiences with the audience. The conference will also host two agency-only town halls, which will allow for frank discussions under Chatham House rules to address challenges and solutions media agency folk face.

Here are a few of the broad topics the speakers and their moderators (Antoinette Siu, Marty Swant and Michael Bürgi) will tackle:

AI dominates headlines but is it integral to agencies yet? 

Hardly an hour, much less a day, goes by without reading another headline about generative AI. Many stories revolve around advances in idea and image generation from the likes of Google, Microsoft, OpenAI and others, while others address the multiple challenges and pitfalls in the form of hallucinations, wrong information and deepfakes. Digiday’s Swant will host a few discussions on the topic, including a chat on how AI can impact media buying with iProspect’s Amanda Moore, and a conversation on the tools and investments agencies are making in AI with UM’s Andy Littlewood.

The reality is, for media agencies, generative AI still really brings efficiency more than innovation — it can help accomplish tasks faster but isn’t going to revolutionize investment, at least not today. Media agencies have been making use of machine learning, a more rudimentary form of AI, for years now, particularly in data, measurement and analytics. Used carefully, more modern generative AI can also improve and broaden creative executions, given the desire by some brands and marketers to customize their messaging to specific consumers. But careful scrutiny of the results image generators make will still have to be carried out by humans. That’s the good news for those agency folk worried AI will replace them.

Influencer agencies also picking up on AI

As influencer and creator-driven marketing continues to form a larger part of marketers’ plans to reach consumers, this summit will feature three influencer-focused agencies that are all growing and bringing something different to the influencer marketing business. While some are investing in building their own AI tools and creator databases, others are working to expand their content strategies and develop new forms of metrics to quantify creator impact and revenue. With the interest in AI integrations, these agencies will continue experimenting with tools from chatbots and avatars to influencer discovery and content production. As the global influencer marketing competition gets fiercer, we also see European agencies opening U.S. offices and installing new technical and agency leadership on the ground to increase influencer recruitment — helping to build on their global client base.

How DEI went back to an uphill climb, and how that can change

It may only represent one session at DMBS this spring, but Digiday’s Bürgi will moderate a discussion with three Black agency veterans about how diversity-driven efforts by agencies and their clients have in some cases been hijacked by non-diverse media companies going after dollars meant to go to minority media. Featuring Walton Isaacson’s Albert Thompson, Response Media’s Alvin Glay and agency veteran Sherine Patrick, the conversation will address inherent biases in programmatic platforms and misrepresentation from mainstream publishers — but also offer solutions on how to get past or avoid these pitfalls to drive responsible investment in diverse-owned media.

Retail media just keeps growing and growing

Commerce opportunities continue to grow across retail media networks, social media and connected TV. Whether it’s through live shopping or influencer marketing, agencies and brands are exploring retail trends as consumers adapt to new ways of purchasing and engaging. While the jury is still out on features like live shopping, AI may play a growing role in shaping personalized experiences, social media shops and targeting strategies — especially given the ongoing cookie deprecation. As Urvashi Ajmera, senior strategist at digital agency Barbarian, previously told Digiday, platforms like TikTok Shop will keep transforming user feeds and content to “more and more organic content … and you’d be scrolling through an infinite feed of shop and sponsored content.”

A few sessions at DMBS will tackle these opportunities directly, including a conversation with VML’s Leah Sallen on March 6 and a March 5 session featuring independent media agency CEO Eric Perko and his client Dave Raggio at Intuit, who together launched a retail media network targeting the small business community.

Changing media investments in a changed media world

Finally, one DMBS session will offer a master class in how to approach media investment from a fresh perspective, featuring Gale Partners’ CEO Brad Simms and client MilkPEP’s CEO Yin Woon Rani. It’s an inescapable truth that, for media agencies, simply planning and buying media for clients is no longer a path to profitability. And for clients, tried and true traditional methods of media investment don’t get the job done anymore, as consumers get harder and harder to find — or even identify.

Along the way, summit sessions will also touch on the topics of remuneration, the changing nature of programmatic investment, the soft rebundling that’s quietly happening across the industry and how not to be afraid of in-housing.

We look forward to seeing you in Nashville next week.

Color by numbers

Communications agency Marco and research tech firm Cint released the third global consumer report findings on AI, media consumption and brand engagements. Some highlights:

  • 72% of respondents worldwide said that AI will replace jobs, while 75% said they believe AI increases the danger of fake news.
  • 91% said it is more important to them that a brand is responsible rather than trendy. Respondents said fighting climate change was considered the most important issue that a brand should take a stand on, while promoting a healthy lifestyle was the least important.
  • Respondents said TV was the most reliable news source, while social media was considered the least reliable.

Takeoff & landing

  • WPP’s full 2023 results, some of which were released in January, show that media agency unit GroupM performed better than expected, generating nearly 5% revenue growth and representing 38% of the parent holdco’s net revenue, according to analyst Brian Wieser.
  • The Federal Trade Commission announced a $16.5 million settlement with a company called Jumpshot for allegedly selling user browsing data to advertising companies, despite promising more privacy. Included in the complaint is holding company Omnicom, as well as ad-tech firms Lotame, Liveramp and Neustar.
  • Ad tech firm Cognitiv launched its Deep Learning Advertising Platform, which it bills as a next-generation approach to programmatic media buying built with deep learning AI at its core.
  • Digital marketing agency Mod Op added to its roster of agencies by acquiring Red Tettemer O’Connell + Partners, a Philadelphia-based creative shop that specializes in social media, content creation and experiential marketing.
  • Personnel moves: Stagwell named Shannon Pruitt global CMO of its Brand Performance Network, which includes most of its agencies … Independent agency The Shipyard hired veteran agency exec Nigel Carr to be its chief strategy officer.

Direct quote

“By removing all political bias from influencers, we are also removing their ability to influence for change and the opportunity to align our brands with important causes that address inequities and injustice.” 

— Kelly Dye, vp of product and innovation at agency Acorn Influence, who spoke about Pixability’s partnership with Black-owned digital video network Culture Genesis.

Speed reading

  • Antoinette Siu canvassed several media agencies for their input on how to approach and invest in sports media, which is undergoing massive fragmentation.
  • Kristina Monllos examined how Walmart’s proposed acquisition of smart TV maker Vizio could upend the power balance in retail media.
  • Michael Bürgi talked with Media by Mother CEO Dave Gaines to get his perspective on how design has become an important element to investing in digital media for clients, including Premier Bankcard.

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