From Blobs And Arrows To Reality – The Technology Disconnect

Matt Adams. iProspect, chief media officer, offers his opinion on the many advertising pitches he has seen from ad tech firms, and how many of their claims are steeped outside of reality. 

I never thought that I would be a great strategist when I joined the agency world six years ago.

I had always been in awe of the strategists in agencies throughout my years in the media owner world – the smart guys and girls who boiled down the way to approach a client’s business challenge in such a simple and smart context that it would drive how the communications plan would be shaped and delivered thereafter.

My role was always to bring the strategy to life, understand and deliver the media that consumers were actually going to see and therefore change their behaviours in a way that met our client’s objectives. We used to joke that our role was to bring the “blobs and arrows” on a strategy document to life – to make that a reality.

This involved being a binary guy, someone who thinks in ones and zeros. That’s why at iProspect I have found my natural home in digital performance – working in a place where we actually make things happen and deliver fantastic results for our clients.

Wind forward the last six years of agency life to the present day, and the haunting banter about blobs-and-arrows has returned, not in a good way, just with a different wrapper and packaging.

At iProspect, I’ve recently been working closely with clients and teams to continue the momentum around our programmatic division. As a result, we get to see the many tech vendors and operators in this space – and the claims these vendors make and the shape and sound of their ‘go-to market’ propositions are sadly very much the same.

The bold claims that sit around what you can do with data, and the claim that ‘data utopia’ is only a contract away is fast becoming a match you have seen played many times before.

The ‘blobs and arrows’ of the technology partner claims are often steeped outside of reality, or at a cost that makes it impossible for a client to invest when you are delivering a tight target for their business. We have all seen them, lots of data in the left, a magic black box in the middle, and better executed media pops out of the right-hand side – the killer slide that has everyone excited and results in high-fives all round.

The hidden context to all of this is the layer upon layer of technology cost that is needed to bring the journey to utopia within touching distance. In a binary world, we need technology companies to come together to make the interface and connectors between disparate parts seamless – it isn’t what you say you can do yourself, but more about how you do it together.

There are not enough technology connectors at scale that can glue this disparate mix together and when you do find them, cost becomes prohibitive when you are delivering performance.

Utopia is coming closer, and at iProspect we build our own technology to provide the data glue.

I hope, that as we continue through the true era of data-driven communications, the technology players in this space think more about how they can make their promise come good, and less about how they can rely on others to stitch them into a solution that delivers efficiencies greater than the sum of the combined costs.