COVID-19: Agency Communications

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Eyeota Audience Data Session: The At Home Edition!

The Eyeota team chat with our industry partners, clients and friends about what brands and advertisers can be doing during this difficult period.

Derek Klimkowski from Eyeota chats with Maikel O'Hanlon from Horizon Media about the shift in internal communications within the agency and how to provide good service to clients at this time.

Watch the 15-min discussion here:

 

 

Read the transcript here:

Derek Klimkowski:

Hello everybody. Thank you very much. I am Derek Klimkowski. I'm the VP of sales at Eyeota. Today we are lucky enough to have Maikel O'Hanlon join us to discuss some of the challenges, some of the changes, some of the nuances that Maikel is seeing across Horizon Media with the clients and then internal communications. So I give opportunity to introduce Maikel and let him tell you a little bit about his day to day responsibilities and then we'll jump right into some of the questions we've put together.

Maikel O'Hanlon:

Sure thing. Thanks so much, Derek. Hi everyone out there on the other end of camera land in strange times. I'm a pleasure to be on and thanks so much to Eyeota being a wonderful partner to Horizon on many levels. My name is Maikel O'Hanlon I am an SVP of performance media and innovation at Horizon. That means I sit within our performance media unit. It is a team comprised of the real time bidding functions that are hands on keyboard in terms of you know, open auction universes, whether that be search, social buying or programmatic, which is my primary remit. You know, and there are certainly a ton of people that we're dealing with at present like everyone is I'm sure. And it's made for an interesting way in which we, you know, approach assessing market opportunities and communicating those in a way that is considerate, thoughtful totally appropriate with so much of what you know, our clients and sort of our fellow country people are going through.

Derek Klimkowski:

Maikel, thank you very much. And you know, we'll jump into some questions here. We'll divide the conversation into two parts, kind of be internal agency communications that you're currently having and kind of how that dynamic is, has changed and shaping itself. And then the second piece is, you know, some of the tips and maybe some of the communications that you're just sharing with your clients. Obviously we don't need to get into specific clients, but anything that you could share would be greatly valuable. So we'll kick it off here. First we'll start with the internal side of the business. You know, obviously Horizon is the largest independent agency in the world. You have teams scattered all over the place. You have different business units. What kind of initiatives and changes have you seen with COVID-19 and everybody having to work from home and kind of changing what they noticed?

Maikel O'Hanlon:

Yeah. you know, I'd say on a, on a macro level, I've actually been really impressed with the way that, you know, our team members have banded together to be communicative, to be in touch to be in it together and in ways in which, hey, it's new. And yet sort of the over-communication, the over-participation in some levels, the eagerness to raise hands to be available for projects, whatever those projects may be. And to be using sort of mediums like Microsoft Teams or Slack as a way of staying in touch has, has been fantastic. I think I like others may have worried that when we dispersed to our various work from home settings that it might've meant a bit of an out of sight, out of mind, hard to reach type of dynamic. And that the disconnect that comes from not seeing each other on a regular basis might lead to, you know, people sort of starting to lose the, you know, the inertia, the energy, the momentum to stay leaned in. And in fact, it's been entirely the opposite. And I know that's been a really comforting, really, really heartwarming for myself, for the clients that are you know, at the receiving end of the work that that our team members do. You know, for the agency and for anybody that's trying to figure things out at present.

Derek Klimkowski:

Great. And that leads me to a follow up question. I think we all are dealing with change, right? And I think we, you know the stronger people rise to the top and in the most challenging situations. And it seems like from, you know, from the horizon point of view, your team is stepping up in ways that you probably weren't sure about because you hadn't been in that environment before. And this is all new. You know, maybe you could talk to us a little bit about the communication from the leadership level and how it gets to your hands and how you bring that to your team. Are there certain initiatives that you're kind of holding onto yourself and rolling those out, if you could speak to the dynamic of your personal approach and also the Horizon leadership approach?

Maikel O'Hanlon:

I think in helping to represent the resource that our practice should offer, certainly to the clients that we service and then to the agency at large and clients that exist within the agency that maybe we don't currently work on behalf of, but that we want to be great partners to. It was incredibly important that at the outset, can we simply make it known throughout the agency, what type of resource we are, relative to the types of insight information that we can provide. So much so that one of our earliest communications was to say, Hey, we don't have the immediate readouts on how the work from home quarantine situation has impacted consumer consumption just yet. But here are a bunch of hypotheses in terms of where it could go. Right? You know, with self quarantining, with sort of mandated quarantining, you know, the living room is going to become the center of the universe.

Maikel O'Hanlon:

And that could mean things like, you know, the place whereby exercising routines are being performed and that sort of exercise content is being searched for to stay fit and active. It could mean the place where cooking inspiration is sourced because there's going to be more you know, cooking experimentation that happens. It's the place certainly where, you know, entertainment is going to be consumed. It's a place where gaming is going to be performed. And you know, in laying out those types of sort of high level hypothesis in terms of how the dynamic of the marketplace could change, we then sort of established a cadence where every week now we follow up with regularity in terms of what the week over week inventory scenarios are around, sort of macro level consumption habits with CTV and OTT, but then certainly on a sort of categorical basis, both serving the particular hypothesis that we suggested could become the new norm for consumer behavior, but also relative to the types of categories that our business verticals are relevant for in terms of where are our clients signify.

Maikel O'Hanlon:

And you know, it's been a ton of education a ton of explaining things like DSPs and SSPs and realizing that sort of like the parlance that we become comfortable with is still foreign to too many people that are on the receiving end of, you know, really appreciating what things mean, in terms of opportunities for where client investments could shift and may shift. It's been neat to sort of get down and, and have both deep but sort of different conversations on, on a client by client basis.

Derek Klimkowski:

And as you, as you mentioned, the client you know, and I hear you talking about, you know, kind of weekly meetings to get a temperature check of the changes that potentially are happening, you know, with media channels you know, have you, and you spoke about a weekly meeting. I guess going back to the internal side of things, how is that different than maybe the way you did it previously? Was it maybe more of a monthly meeting? Was it a quarterly meeting? Maybe you can kind of explain a little bit of the differences of today versus let's call it a month ago.

Maikel O'Hanlon:

Sure. Yeah. So I would say it's weekly communications that are effectively rolled up to communicate trends that we feel are substantial enough to represent intel that is worth being shared out and potentially acted upon. But what's changed is that it is effectively daily communication and meetings that are happening between ourselves and our respective sort of internal client team members that then represent the external client and that is been one of the most eyeopening sort of changes that this whole dynamic has brought because you would think that intuitively when we are all working in the same office, you would naturally have more opportunity to connect on a regular basis, as frequent as daily than you would when you are in different parts at home. Right? But the need to understand how the situation that we're all at the receiving end of is leading to daily disruptions in terms of media pauses or creative refreshes or considerations for the way in which a brand changes their messaging or thinks about new targeting audiences means that we are on some level of having more sort of repeat conversations with higher frequency than we were previously.

Maikel O'Hanlon:

And that's, that's both sort of exhausting at some point, but also sort of incredibly insightful and rewarding to be leaning into client challenges that that, you know, we are being thoughtful to try and solve in ways that we, we actually never had to sort of dimensionalize before.

Derek Klimkowski:

I think those are some great points and kind of leading that over and taking it into the the client conversations. Is there something a couple pieces or tips or things that you have resonated over the last few weeks with your client engagements? Like, what type of questions are they asking you holistically? Maybe you could give us a little overview of that.

Maikel O'Hanlon:

I think first and foremost there is a desire to understand, you know, if I previously thought that I knew my audience and where my audience was so much so that we were comfortable with our investments in live TV and live sports and sports sponsorships and that has all evaporated. And yet you're also telling me that the amount of OTT consumption, CTV consumption is spiking 20% week over week. Which was the figures that we saw the first week out most recently, it's it's still seen a, you know, a 9% uptick in terms of total avails. Help me understand how I translate the previous sort of targeting parameters into the new consumption context so that I, can be sure that I'm still reaching the same audience that I wanted to reach in sort of the new forms in which they're consuming content.

Maikel O'Hanlon:

Right. And so, you know, it's been a lot of work about you know, equating the way in which they previously would define their target prospects around sort of set target prospects, a shift in into how they're taking advantage of of their time within the living room being sort of the expanse of their universe at present. So that's one thing, you know, another thing that we're doing is sort of finding proactive ways whereby we can surface the client's considerations that they, you know, may not themselves even be catching. Right? So because we sit in a place where the pixels that we place for retargeting purposes from a programmatic media standpoint allow us to see the the pixel fire reports that indicate how much site traffic certain clients are seeing as part of an uptick in terms of client relevance for where our clients are turning for entertainment or information or whatever the case may be.

Maikel O'Hanlon:

We are playing that back for client consideration in terms of does this increase in terms of activity on your o and o properties, lead you to think differently about the way in which you might want to be active at present. Right. And those are sort of spawning are really, really meaningful convos at the present as well.

Derek Klimkowski:

Got it. And you've mentioned the CTV, you know, out of home, different channels that you're starting and you're noticing some of the shifts. Are there some others channels that you're noticing pullback, maybe you can just speak to kind of overall consumption and where the conversations are moving into certain channels?

Maikel O'Hanlon:

Yeah, that's a great question. I think there's a lot of pub direct dialogue at the moment in regards to publisher volume of activity that, that is being seen in the way in which everyone's being considerate about you know finding ways in which to show up against that activity. But to also be considerate and thoughtful there are certainly reasons to be increasingly active in search when it comes to brand and owned sort of defensible types of keywords and online inquiries that are being made. You know, they're naturally, as I sort of signaled earlier on was you know, a huge disruption to the sports and the live marketplace and anything around gaming that is coming online whereby a space in which we previously haven't had the ability to insert advertising is now, sort of making creative waves relative to the way in which that can be done has led for sort of an accelerated exploration that the previously you know, it wasn't being paced as aggressively as it is now.

Maikel O'Hanlon:

You know, so it's really sort of spanning the gamut client by client, instance by instance, challenge by challenge, inquiry by inquiry. There's a lot of outmoded or antiquated perspectives that we're dispelling when it comes to the programmatic market. And that's been wonderful. I think that the mantra for Horizon overall is, in this time, be the most helpful partner that we can be. Don't worry at all about you know, what we're selling or how we're trying to make money. You know, it's the way in which we stand up as a partner in this moment to provide equity to our clients. Equity that comes in the shape of goodwill and helpfulness that is going to end up sort of coming back to mean a bigger upside when we're all out of this. And that's, that's the mantra that we're living by and following.

Derek Klimkowski:

Yeah, I'm a firm believer in that, you know, do right by your customers. Obviously some of these things are probably not all tied to revenue, but you know, in this, in this I guess, environment, you know, that we're in, it's necessary to make these changes and you need to be able to adapt. And there is one thing that you had shared earlier in the week is, you know, finding that fair balance of like being sensitive and not coming across opportunistic. And I think there's a fine line when it comes to education that, you know, the education is for the purpose of knowledge, not always, you know, with an end game there. And I think the more you show that to your clients where they, they, they buy into the relationship and see what you're really about. So today, you know, my Cal, I wanted to thank you very much.

Derek Klimkowski:

This was very educational. I think some of these points, you know, are well-received. There's some of the topics that are being broadcast across, you know, the agency client relationships. And I really think horizon has taken that forefront and, you know, we value the opportunity to work together. You know, there's, there's, there's lots of change out there and you know, we're here to hopefully disseminate and share some of those changes from the agency side into the community and also be a resource to help support, you know, some of your efforts. So we value as a partner. Thank you very much for your time today and we'll be sure to follow up on, on these questions and see where we are a month from now and see if things have changed. So once again, Maikel, thank you very much. I'll give you an opportunity to say any final words if you'd like.

Maikel O'Hanlon:

Yeah. I think we're all looking for great partners at this moment in time. When we were talking earlier this week to prep for this convo I sort of shot off a pie in the sky ask intel that can help us to get sort of smarter about vertical knowledge when it comes to the verticals that our clients exist in. You know, within a span of two hours, you turned around the Eyeota Eye On vertical reports which I geeked out on in terms of digging deep for an hour or so plus going through them. And that was incredibly meaningful because I think, you know, so many times you do the top line dance, which is to say, 'Hey, you know, if I can help you in any way, let me know. Right. And then that sort of like disappears into the ether and you know so much so that, that you know, when you sort of like sign off with that type of pleasantry, normally, I don't know that anything's expected. So for you to have followed up the way that you did with those reports, I would say anybody else out there that happens to tune into this you know, ask Derek and team for those because they were fantastic and material that we've already circulated and I can see us using in many ways for a long time forward. So thanks again to iota and yourself there.

Derek Klimkowski:

Great, Maikel, thanks again for being such a great partner and we'll be in touch soon.

Maikel O'Hanlon:

Be well. Take care. Bye. Bye.