What does a media agency do when it can’t find the answers to the strategic questions it’s asking on behalf of clients? In the case of Mediastruction, an 11-year-old independent media shop, you build your own analytics department to get them.
The Boston-based agency, which handles mid-market clients on both the B2C (Rockland Trust Bank) and B2B clients (Iron Mountain, Idexx Labs) sides, got its start as a traditional media agency, founded by by Marilois Snowman. Clients range in size of spend from $2 million to $20 million on average.
Snowman soon became frustrated at the lack of available data on attribution — as well as the cost of acquiring the software and data sets that could answer some of those questions. Timing was on Snowman’s side, she explained, as the cost of cloud computing and SaaS products proliferated and became more affordable over the last few years, enabling Mediastruction to build its own solutions around media mix modeling, but with a fortuitous pivot. It has since grown to about 50 staffers, with a heavy emphasis on data scientists.
“Our focus has been on how to build media mix models, and adjust them so they’re in near-real-time. That accommodates a lot of data that we have access to from digital media,” said Snowman. “So what we position as a multi-touch attribution solution is not built around identity resolution — it’s built around making sense, primarily investment sense, of the walled gardens.”
It’s solving the attribution conundrum that has driven Snowman to find better answers for her clients. She said Mediastruction built a model that defines attribution according to the client’s KPI or other dependent variable, and is looked at through the lens of each major walled garden. Then Mediastruction powers up an optimizer that recommends the next budget allocation by whatever cadence the client wants. “With that, we’re not dependent on this identity resolution or duplication,” she said, “and we’re just allowing the walled gardens to do their own thing [and] optimizing within them.”
Joy Baer, who is an advisor to media and entertainment companies, including Mediastruction, said what makes this independent shop stand out is the follow through. “They’re using tech to drive real operational efficiencies and insights for their clients that go beyond just the pitch — and I say that about the pitch because it’s very common for agencies to use technology to help them position for and win new business. It’s incumbent on the agency to really metabolize that tech and make good use of it. And some do a better job than others.”
Baer noted that the buying optimizer Mediastruction developed “is making media buying much more efficient and effective for their clients and themselves. … I’ve seen the output of this by optimizer compared to a manual buying process and it saves hours and hours of time and literally millions and millions of computations to achieve” the client’s goals.
A marketing executive with Idexx, which targets veterinarians with advertising promoting its animal diagnostics offerings across the globe, explained that it’s that attribution extra effort that has delivered for the company, which recruited Mediastruction in late 2021.
“They challenge us to think about the audience [veterinarians] and what their state of mind is depending on the country and how they’re approaching diagnostics, and not finely cut our marketing budget too much to where it’s ineffective,” said the executive, who declined to speak on the record because they didn’t have permission to speak to the press. “Combining products, looking at how you can combine different countries if you’re able to because of language. And really thinking more holistically about the strategy vs. focusing country by country.”
Baer cited Snowman’s leadership in an area — tech — that continues to be dominated by men. “She represents a a unique intersection of curiosity and just great female leadership, at a time when our our world needs it,” said Baer, “along with this passion for technology as well.”
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