Ilda Jamison: I’m excited to have Kia and Havas join us today for the second installment of the Quantcast event series NOVA. Joining me virtually, I have Kevin, Head of Product for Havas Media Australia, and Niko, who’s the Digital Marketing Manager for Kia Motors. Today we’re going to explore and discuss the power of collaboration, specifically uncovering how Havas as an agency approaches working with their clients, and the partnership they have with advertising partners like Quantcast. We don’t always see agencies connecting marketers with their technology partners that feature on their media plan, and this is quite unique. So today we’re going to discuss how Havas set about on this path to create a trilateral relationship that has benefit and adds value to all parties–the marketer, the agency, and the technology partner.
So Niko, thanks for joining us today. I’d love to get a little background as to how you work with your agency, Havas–what you leverage them for as an agency partner versus what you look after internally with the Kia digital marketing team. Can you tell me about your role and how you work with the agency?
Nikolas Souliotis: Yeah, thanks, Ilda. My name is Niko, and I work on the digital team at Kia, looking after the whole digital agenda for the company, which basically means I have the pleasure of working across all aspects of digital strategy, innovation, data, creative, and execution, and also working closely with our family of agencies and partners.
Ilda Jamison: Kevin, thank you for joining us today. We often see media agencies holding their clients really close to their chest, usually keeping their clients and tech partners at arm’s length, and more often than not, they are the gatekeepers to these relationships. Can you talk about Havas’s approach and how it differs from some of the other agency models that we see, please?
Kevin Fernandes: Look, I think the gatekeeper conversation will still continue to be there. But I think at Havas, we truly believe that the consumer’s the heart of everything. Having this mindset extended to the partners that we work with is firstly fundamental for us in establishing a successful partnership. I truly believe we are sort of futuristic in our approach towards meaningful media: we try and help define, actually, the role of these platforms, like Quantcast, that actually plays to the overall customer decision framework. And the way we look at our relationship with Quantcast is beyond just a pure extension of our media delivery. I think we work with them right at the start, which is, you know, helping to find a strategy, getting the definition of our target audience, which is actually using and leveraging their data insights. And that is complementary to the additional internal tools that we’ve got at the agency as well.
Ilda Jamison: So Niko, over the past five years, in your time working at Kia, how beneficial has it been for you to have direct relationships with vendors like Quantcast? Is this an approach you take across your business, and how has having these relationships directly helped you to solve business challenges?
Nikolas Souliotis: Just like Kevin, I’m a big believer in partnerships. I feel everyone who is willing and able to collaborate with us has value to bring to the table. The work that we often do requires complex second data. So keeping up requires expertise and a new way of rethinking the traditional, you know, brand-agency relationship. Similar to the concept of supply chain optimization, you know, closer relationships between all parties and a collaborative approach, unlocks new sources of value and even help supply chains become more resilient. And our work with Havas and Quantcast, creating a three-way partnership, has shown that it does move the needle; it brings a new energy, a new dynamic to the team. It can reduce waste and rework and redundant effort; it allows us to focus on both short- and long-term strategy and even increase agility because accountability is better shared. It is my responsibility as a brand to remove guesswork and provide directions. I’m closer to the product, the customer, our vision, and how the different moving parts can come together. And then Havas and Kevin’s team work on translating our needs into a strategy and a plan of attack. Now marry that with the tools, bespoke solutions, and insights from Quantcast, and we can make happily ever after happen<./p>
Ilda Jamison: Sounds like a perfect marriage. So the world of digital marketing and ad tech can be so complex–it’s constantly evolving–but I’m happy to hear that with Havas’s support, vendors like ourselves have been able to add value to your team and your business in helping navigate some of the complexities and challenges within the industry. So for us, having a direct relationship with you, Niko, and through you at Havas, Kevin, it has really helped the Quantcast team better understand your business challenges and pain points and be able to create custom solutions tailored to your needs. Without us having that direct relationship, it would be so much harder. So Niko, how has the direct line of communication with ourselves at Quantcast–and with the support of Kevin and the Havas team–helped address your specific needs and deliver results? Could you walk us through an example of this, please?
Nikolas Souliotis: Yes, 100%. One of the things that we’ve been able to do with Quantcast as part of our latest work with Havas is to better understand an audience that hasn’t been defined yet, at least in Australia. While the EV market is slowly growing, the current buyer or audience size doesn’t represent the growth opportunity within the category. So segmentation and personalization–good luck with that–it’s gonna be very difficult if you don’t understand your consumer. With the right tools, Quantcast is allowing us to get audience insights in real time that don’t exist anywhere else. And these are not just audiences to report against them. We’re actually using the insights to inform creative strategy and activate campaigns. To an extent, it’s closing the loop on insights and actioning. I think that’s such a powerful tool–definitely a point of difference.
Kevin Fernandes: Yeah, probably just to add to Nik’s point: it’s about future-proofing electric vehicles, right? Like that’s the new offering that Kia have in market. But we’re making sure that we’ve got that data right at the start so that we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. When it actually launches, these insights can be used as leverage for us on an always-on campaign.
Ilda Jamison: Now finally, then, what advice would you give to others? So Kevin, to those in roles similar to yours within a media agency, why would you encourage connecting your clients with advertising partners directly?
Kevin Fernandes: Leave it simple, right: let the experts do the job. I mean, they’re there for a reason. Let’s use them for a reason. But I think it’s more important to understand the why before you jump into, you know, making them part of your media plan. That’s the important question that, probably, I’d encourage people in my position to ask, when they work with vendors, like Quantcast, as we probably know, as an agency, that digital and data is going to be centered towards the whole customer journey.
Ilda Jamison: And Niko, what advice or guidance would you give to marketers that might want to explore working closer with some of the advertising vendors that feature on their media plans?
Nikolas Souliotis: The way I see it, you know, for anyone seeking to improve their performance, a three-way partnership isn’t simply a nice thing to have. Brands and agencies that know how to tap into this direction will be in a better position to improve ROI. Full stop. I’d recommend starting by identifying, you know, those platforms that offer joint opportunities, and then align to define objectives and a clear roadmap at the same time. You know, Kevin and I know that building trust takes time and effort. So this might mean starting small, you know, small, simple projects that can deliver results, help you build momentum. Last, it does require a more active and engaged working relationship across all parties; you need to have the regular and ongoing dialogue that goes beyond monthly or even quarterly reviews.
Ilda Jamison: If you could change one thing in the industry, what would it be?
Nikolas Souliotis: If I had a magical stick, I would redesign the ad landscape. People feel overwhelmed and interrupted by bad digital ads. But they don’t really mind the good ones. So for us, it’s more like working on avoiding intrusive advertising. And, you know, designing creative and ads and plans that provide a better user experience.
Kevin Fernandes: For me, it’s, you know, keeping media and content on the side. And the thing that probably I would want changed is not stopping our momentum. I think, you know, we work in an agency and an industry that is constantly changing. You know, things like working towards an identity solution and data having to be at the center of everything is the future. And with conversations of cookies fading away, just put on the backburner, shouldn’t probably stop the momentum that the agency had generated and working towards that solution–and, in return as well, the industry as a whole. I’ll also take the liberty of probably answering what we shouldn’t change, which is the media industry has always been hesitant of people working from home, but what this pandemic has shown is the fact that autonomy and quality of the work is still continued while people work in different places. So that’s the liberty I’ll take in answering of what we shouldn’t change in the industry: the autonomy of people working from any place and still continue to do a great job.
Ilda Jamison: Thank you both for joining me to share your success, your guidance, and your advice. My key takeaway is that collaboration is central within agencies, their clients, and technology partners if we are to truly create better outcomes.