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Media Agency Models Media Planning and Buying

Twitter’s agency head Ed Turner on the move to a booming VaynerMedia


By John McCarthy | Opinion editor

February 1, 2023 | 8 min read

With the media agency’s EMEA headcount rising 75% in a year, new hire Ed Turner and his boss Daisy Domenghini share how founder Gary Vee’s organic social media experimentation fervor is now paying off for clients.

Ed Turner

Twitter’s agency head Ed Turner on the move to a booming VaynerMedia

At more than a decade old, VaynerMedia’s rise has been catalyzed by founder Gary Vee’s incessant hunger to crack social media algorithms. Like him or loathe him, the agency has taken his lessons to heart. Its ranks of like-minded creative and media code crackers swell intent on making the work hit harder. In 2016, the agency opened its first international office in London. Now the EMEA region has reached a headcount of 211.

Among the new hires is EMEA vice-president Ed Turner, who comes fresh from Twitter, where he was head of agencies. Before that, he held down senior roles at Little Dot Studios, Copa90 and Engine.

From his previous vantage point, he saw how the world’s top agencies were harnessing social media. Now he's crossed over to help brands crack the multitude of platforms now available to them. On his new agency, he says: “I’ve never seen a system work so well before. The narrative is very clear. The process is very clear and it drives actual results for clients.”

The creative and media agency’s bread and butter are in organic social across numerous platforms. In Europe, it produces around 100 pieces of content a week for social, with the best performers often then chosen or adapted for paid amplification. Or sometimes, the audience’s insights get digested and replicated in another piece entirely.

Now working for clients including Indeed, Zalando, This, Aerie, Wiredscore, TikTok Shop and Diageo (innovation team), the agency lends equal weight to creative and media in briefs, and uses its social presence to bolster insights and learnings across all clients.

Turner, who was just a few days into his role, was already (almost) overwhelmed at the sheer number of Slack channels where the team was sharing its social insights, including some personally including Gary. “I’ll wake up with hundreds of Slack messages saying ‘this is happening, try this’. It's quite impressive.”

“It all feeds in from the stuff Gary’s just been doing for himself [on social]. This agency started when Gary fed it through to clients. He was talking the talk and walking the walk.”

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It’s a new perspective for Turner, seeing how external actors will try to break down an algorithm and understand the content that is prioritized. He reflects that such agencies are sometimes ahead of the platform reps they’ll deal with and perhaps those running that platforms. “They're just not testing all the different stuff as much, they’re not as close to it.”

Such discussions are reflective of the cat-and-mouse game agencies must partake in if they’re really to be at the cutting edge of the social Hydra, which seemingly grows new legs by the day.

Daisy Domenghini, managing director at VaynerMedia EMEA, steps in to answer questions now, enthusiastically teasing some exciting work coming down the line from Durex. Domenghi, best known for a nine-year stint at Engine (now House337 in the UK), explains that her “eyes were opened” when she joined in 2021.

“I come from agencies where we tried to do this before. It was media over here and creative over there. That was the problem. They were acting as separate groups and not as one team. We’re designed to force those worlds much closer together with portfolios headed up equally by media and a creative strategy partner.”

The main advantage of this closeness is that by its very nature, it means creative both paid and organic can be more honestly interrogated. “From organic, we can advise a tweak, a new call to action, on stuff that is already resonating rather than going to create new stuff we don't know will even work. We say, take this, we know it’s working, people are already clicking it organically.”

The pair acknowledge that many agencies talk about agility but that without this test and learn, it’s just talking. Because it lives close to culture, the agency doesn’t like getting hemmed into a tight brief.

Domenghini says: “Our best media plan is almost not a plan. We don't really want to spend six months creating a media plan upfront. We’ll have a hypothesis, we’ll go in it, and we’ll optimize that as we go in real-time.”

Turner admits that while the agency has to be strong in all platforms, it doesn’t strive to force a solution to fit every question. “Depending on the brief, the client and the audience, we’ll work out the best platform. We don’t tie ourselves to spend on TikTok or wherever, we will go wherever we need to go to deliver the right results for the client”. And the agency should never have an answer before it knows the question, Turner repeats the old mantra: “If you’re just a paid agency, the answer is always going to be paid.”

The agency is out to prove that the ethos of its founder provides it with a solid foundation to steer it to the great change we will be seeing on the platforms in the coming years. Domenghini admits that only some clients will be “brave” enough to try it the Gary Vee way.

Media Agency Models Media Planning and Buying

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