Agencies act as a trusted and impartial partner for brands, said Standard Chartered Bank’s global head of digital marketing, whereas tech vendors are “just trying to get commission out of us”.
He spoke out in defense of the client-agency relationship, which has recently come under scrutiny as some marketers have moved to work directly with technology businesses. Speaking at ATS in Singapore today, Cummings said that clients would prefer to build their own technology for their marketing activity but with limited resources the agency is entrusted with the role.
“I don’t trust tech vendors,” he said, “I trust agencies, marketers trust agencies, as they are perceived as relatively impartial. It’s often abused but there is a high level of trust.”
“The reason we don’t trust tech vendors is that they only sell the feeds and speeds, the functional specs. But we know they’ll be obsolete in 6 months, they are just trying to get commission out of us,” he added.
Cummings said the key need for marketers was “free and easy access to data”, which helps brands trust agencies with the outsourced task of managing marketing technology. He said control of the data should never be used against a brand, adding “we don’t want data to become a blackmail point”.
In terms of partnerships with tech vendors, he described brand’s relationship with Facebook and Google as an arranged marriage.
“I have to trust Google and Facebook, but I got into bed because it’s an arranged marriage. There can be love but it’s an arranged marriage,” he said.
When asked if other tech vendors are a one night stand, he said they were the “sleazy guy in the bar that’s trying to hit on you who may be one night stand.”
Cummings advised tech vendors not to try and go direct to brands and instead ensure that the agency is part of the conversation in order to maintain trust.