Infectious Media hopes to win over US and APAC with centralised tech strategy
Infectious Media has opened its first offices outside Europe, opening in Chicago and Singapore in the second half of 2016.
Infectious Media co-founder Martin Kelly on the agency's expansion into the US and APAC
According to co-founder Martin Kelly, it plans to offer an alternative model to the big network media agencies, by driving efficiencies by keeping some operations, such as data, centralised.
“We’re one of the only independent businesses to be able to say we have a global business, unless you go to the likes of GroupM. We pitch against the networks in the market we are going after and when the question is asked about efficiency, I think the international play is where we can genuinely drive an efficiency.
We have client service teams on ground in region but run activity globally. The operations team is in London and it’s a very different model to the traditional agencies, who have offices in all the markets. We don’t need that and we then tend to resonate with advertisers that want something different and are sick of that model.
We’ve heard of some weird and wonderful models, of having fragmented teams in all sorts of markets and there really is no efficiency gain with that. It’s about leveraging relationships with publishers locally but data centrally,” he said.
According to Kelly, the company took that approach in 2012 when it opened offices in France and Germany but realised most European clients were still being served from the London office. The business eventually shut down both of the offices.
Keeping the majority of the operational functions in London means that the regional teams will be staffed around client servicing, strategy and publisher relationships. Kelly said these functions were reliant on local knowledge, particularly in APAC where differences from a business and cultural perspective can be stark, market to market.
“What we find works is having a central tech infrastructure, so you can get comparisons very quickly and easily, but we need to learn the local differences. APAC particularly is very mobile, Japan is very closed and has a different publisher ecosystem, you need to understand these differences,” he explained.
Perhaps one of the most starkly different market in APAC is China, which has a very different ecosystem in terms of ad tech and publishers. Kelly said there was no plan as such for China but it would be a market where partnership made sense before they launched entirely by themselves.
Alongside the argument that data and tech being kept centrally drives efficiencies is the trend for brands using martech, cutting out the service layer that agencies give. Kelly isn’t concerned that this would impact his business.
“We provide a level of reporting and analytics that shows why, when and how media is performing, it’s very transparent, but whether they use that is questionable. We find a lot of clients want access but want a level of service around it. It’s probably one of the fallacies in the market around self-service; i’m not sure how much there is in the market. People talk about the term ‘programanaged’, which is programmatic technology but you need people to run it because self-serve is difficult,” he argued.
According to Kelly, the trend he sees happening more in 2017 is around agencies bringing in their own technology and procuring their own technology.