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As the online industry has grown, so have the number of moving parts we have to consider.

As the cogs in the machine continue to multiply, everyone has had to acquire cross functional skills to manage the different channels that come under the remit of the online marketer.

Whether it be PPC, SEO, re-targeting, social, mobile, or local; the one entity in this eco-system that should have a working knowledge of all of these areas is your technology provider. 

So, who is your technology provider? 

Firstly, let me define ‘technology provider’. These are SaaS based platforms that enable you to track, manage, report, and optimise your online activity. Chances are, if you are operating on a large scale, you work with at least two or three of these providers.

I’m not talking about publisher platforms, rather third parties that have the capability to integrate with and work across different kinds of publishers and technologies such as those that provide attribution reporting, others that offer re-targeting services or social media monitoring.

Now let’s talk in practical terms about how you can make use of their brains as well as their technology. 

Be brave and volunteer

Advertisers and agencies are constantly looking to their technology provider for innovations in the space. Earlier, knowledge and insights were considered an unexpected bonus from the technology but today they have become a reasonable expectation.

In this current environment, it is extremely important for the technology provider to deliver intuitive reports to clients that are generated on the platform through complex algorithms that analyse the trends of their campaigns and inform the clients of the best ways to optimise. This is important for the provider in order to build a reputation as market leaders and establish loyalty among clients. 

My advice to end users to stand out in this competitive space is to be brave and to volunteer for proof of concept testing, beta phases, and even new client servicing processes.

There is only a limited amount of QA and internal testing that can be done, so a live environment is vital in order to complete the cycle of product development. In a nutshell, technology shouldn’t be built by developers in isolation but with a constant feedback loop involving the customer facing teams and a variety of end users. 

The benefits of an interactive process of innovation to the client are clear. You will be seen as innovative and will become the first point of contact for release updates and innovations ahead of others. Inevitably not all tests are a success, but the feedback loop between provider and client will lead to greater innovation and smoother processes in the future. 

Help your provider help you

As previously mentioned, it is very rare to work with a technology provider that meets all of your needs at once.

It is therefore important not only to prioritise your key objectives and needs for technology but also important that you join forces with a technology provider that is willing to help you work towards finding that perfect balance and is flexible enough to cater to your unique objectives.

It might be that the 15 minutes you can spare to help your provider diagnose a problem can shed that crucial bit of light that leads to the issue being resolved ergo, if you work together, everybody wins.

It can be the case that you might spot an issue but just put it down the pecking order on your ‘to do’ list but I would advise against it. The longer you leave it before highlighting the issue to your provider the more that issue can snowball. Keep an open and honest two way dialogue and ensure you raise problems in a prompt and clear manner. 

Give each other a pat on the back 

Every supplier loves a ‘thank you’. No matter the industry, if you as a client can recognise the contribution that your provider has made to your successes then it spurs them to continue on the path they have walked with you so far.

Similarly, as a client you can identify those providers who really care if they drop you a note highlighting recent improvements in performance, or the success of a particular project that you’ve been working all hours on.

Imagine yourself in their place. If you’ve played a part in something good you certainly appreciate a bit of praise and recognition. 

Use your provider’s industry experience

The final way of turning your contract into a partnership I want to highlight is perhaps the most important. Technology platforms have a number of different departments that create the experience you want from the technology, and the people involved in creating that experience come from a variety of backgrounds.

The client services teams should understand how to run marketing activity, the knowledge of which they can share with you. The technical teams know how integrations typically mix with platforms you might work with or are considering, so take on board any tips and tricks they might offer up. 

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that while every business is different, they also share many similarities. If you have any other tips that will help deepen the relationship between advertisers and their technology providers I’d love to hear from you so do share your insights.

Matthew Whitehead

Published 22 May, 2012 by Matthew Whitehead

Matthew Whitehead is Lead Solutions Consultant, EMEA at Kenshoo UK Ltd  and a contributor to Econsultancy.

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