How should creatives and media specialists work together?

Andrea Brown, MD Content UK at Publicis

Working in a content unit within a media agency, we try to help through data.

What people are interacting with what content, on what platforms, and where in the world?

What content is resonating, in what context? We pass this information upstream to our creative agencies, so they have a much more validated view of what we’re trying to do.

Hossein Houssaini, Global Head of Programmatic Solutions at Havas Media Group

We need to educate the advertiser, too. Too often we deliver separate briefs to creatives and media agencies.

Then if someone wants to do dynamic creative, we have to start again. There needs to be clear communication with advertisers that we need to plan it together.

What KPIs, audiences and creative should we use? It’s basically a planning process, a comms process.

Beri Cheetham, Executive Creative Director at Leo Burnett


To quote the great Dave Trott, “98% of comms are shit”. So, obviously, programmatic, targeted ads can be shit as well.

The onus is on us as media and creative agencies to hit the right person, but it has to be done in such a way as to produce a response. 

Do we need to educate creative agencies?

Beri Cheetham, Leo Burnett 

We’ve barely touched the surface of programmatic. It’s naive to think we can forgo it.

The creative idea might start with programmatic media in mind anyway, so shunning it is a nonsense.

Hossein Houssaini, Havas Media Group 

Both sides have to listen. Yesterday we launched a programmatic education programme at Havas Media – next year we’ll apply this to creative side, as well as media side.

We need to learn to speak to each other again.

Andrea Brown, Publicis


Programmatic means different things to different people. We did [training] in Starcom – everyone went through it, from CEO to graduates.

We need a standard definition of what programmatic is.

Sandie Milberg, Chief Revenue Officer at Varick Media Management 

A lot of advertisers and agencies are ticking the programmatic box, but they aren’t thinking of what that means.

They build out dynamic creative, such as retargeting people with pictures of recently browsed shoes, and they think ‘we’re doing it, great’.

But that’s not really creative. It needs to resonate. And whilst creative can put together a fantastic story, you’re stuck in a hole where you don’t have the budget to deliver this.

Andrea Brown, Publicis 

We have creative designers that create that journey. We think about how we can nudge people along by looking at their context.

What device are they using? How we can we be much more useful or entertaining when targeting people?

Beri Cheetham, Leo Burnett

Tech is moving faster than the people making the messages. Algorithms can’t write the copy at the moment. And from a design point of view, we need to ask how each message is relevant. 

Maybe customisation, allowing the customer to choose what they see, could possibly be more powerful than personalisation.

So, how are you improving communication between creative and media specialists?

Hossein Houssaini, Havas Media Group  


In 2017 Havas Media will join the creative teams at Havas Village in Kings Cross, where creative and media will create a ‘big brain lab’.

Andrea Brown, Publicis

Publicis has assembled cross-disciplinary teams, including outside partnerships, too. So, we create the right teams according to what advertisers need.

We need the agility of the right people around the right problem.

The final consideration for me is the client – how much do they know about their audience? Brand driven organisations might not know as much as performance-based organisations.

But that’s going to change, as single swipe purchases are going to move the medium on even for markets such as FMCG.

Beri Cheetham, Leo Burnett

The structure of our agency has changed massively in the last two years. It is now four dimensional rather than two dimensional. We create ecosystems around clients.

That’s easy for me to say, I just do words and pictures. But how do we make money out of this new approach? It’s a nettle that agencies need to grasp. 

Andrea Brown, Publicis

What is creativity? Often there’s a story. but sometimes it’s just a new combination of things, doing things in a new way.

For example, location targeting near out-of-home sites. So, when someone walked past a billboard, we sent push notification to Cineworld’s past visitors, pushing their loyalty card.

That didn’t come out of our creative agency, it was just about the timing and the medium. Co-location enables this thinking around the water-cooler.

What are the main challenges for agencies doing programmatic?

Hossein Houssaini, Havas Media Group  

Talent. The industry has a lack of talent.

That’s nobody’s fault, the business grew too fast. Last year everyone thought programmatic was just real-time bidding, but that’s just one aspect.

Most organisations learn about new roles, hire them, then don’t know what to do with them. For example, data analysts need to understand media spend, as this impacts on the effort they put into audience development.

How do you collect third-party data, who developed the rule set, can we guarantee trust for the client? These are all important questions.

Andrea Brown, Publicis

We are not doing a good enough job of talking to university graduates. The other thing we need is architects to design CRM systems.

The Guardian built Ophan to tell journalists how they should tweak headlines, when is the right time to post to social media, etc.

This system is written by talented people, and designed by people who understood the value of such a platform.

Beri Cheetham, Leo Burnett 

45% of millennials in the UK use ad blockers, so programmatic is not always going to reach them.

For more on programmatic, subscribers can download The CMO’s Guide to Programmatic.