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Laura Desmond: Agencies Undisputed Leaders Of Data ‘Alchemy’

SAN FRANCISCO – It can be pretty scary when a Chief Growth Officer forecasts a big decline in advertising spending in the next five years, as Publicis Groupe’s Rishad Tobaccowala did recently. To his former comrade Laura Desmond, it’s a call to action that agencies are in a unique position to fulfill.

That’s because agencies are best equipped to “understand people, what they do, how they buy, what they’re motivated by and brands. And how to connect media and brands in the right media environment together,” says Desmond.

In this interview at RampUp 2018, the annual LiveRamp conference, Laura Desmond, the former CEO of Starcom and now Founder & CEO of the new consultancy Eagle Vista Partners, talks about the tools and skillsets agencies will need to best leverage omnichannel marketing.

Referring to Tobaccowala as “my very smart old colleague,” Desmond says of his prediction, “I think broadly that’s right.”

In the days of the 15% media commission for agencies, the impact of such a spending decline would have had a different effect. Now it means that agencies must invest more not only in creativity but also in data and science.

“And agencies are without question in that space the undisputed leaders of putting that alchemy together on behalf of a client, on behalf of their brands. I don’t think that’s going to change,” Desmond says.

Agencies need data platforms and streams that encompass not only brand, media and buying but all kinds of data. This can range from weather to purchasing information “to how people use screens when they are in store, out of store, mobile, location,” she adds.

“All those data pieces and streams have to come together and agencies are going to need to use technology and software to better capture intelligence in an instant of time. Because people and human hands just can’t do all of that data crunching themselves.”

This video is part of a series produced in San Francisco at the RampUp 2018 conference. The series is sponsored by Alphonso. For more videos from the series, please visit this page.