Media Data & Privacy Data

3 ways agencies can help clients navigate the data paradigm shift

By Carly Dome | Director of agency partnerships

May 11, 2023 | 8 min read

As part of The Drum‘s latest Deep Dive, The New Data & Privacy Playbook, Alliant‘s Carly Dome spells out key ways in which agencies can address clients‘ most pressing data challenges.

Person navigating maze

/ Adobe Stock

As today’s brand marketers are tasked to do more with less, they’re demanding additional support from their agencies, particularly when it comes to navigating the new and ever-changing data landscape. They’re looking for strategies and tactics for managing third-party cookie deprecation, new privacy regulations and evolving tech platform policies – and their partners are racing to deliver.

Holding company level shops may have deep resources and their own data arms to support much of this demand. But for independent agencies, these shifts may cause a greater strain. Yet no matter the size of an organization, the opportunities to deepen client relationships and deliver new value far outweigh the challenges.

Here are three areas in which agencies can satisfy increased demands from clients on the data side, all while up-leveling their internal processes, partnerships and personnel.

Dig into client data capabilities

To meet new client demands around data, agencies need to first get a handle on the brand’s data journeys – where a brand sits with its data assets and capabilities. Alignment and figuring out where they are means asking a lot of questions.

One of the biggest pain points brands face, particularly in light of third-party cookie deprecation, is the need to acquire, organize and activate first-party data assets. But this process looks different for every company. What first-party data does the brand already have on hand, and how was it acquired? What does the brand’s privacy policy say about how the data is or isn’t used? Where and how is data stored and organized? How’s it being activated today? Where can the brand be tapping into opportunities to capture additional first-party insights? Where does it need to be supplemented with third-party insights?

Agencies need to deeply understand their clients’ relative data sophistication and adapt their approaches accordingly. Only then can they determine where and how they can add value for a client when it comes to their data strategies and, ultimately, the campaigns that they power.

Maximize capabilities with the right partners

With a better understanding of a brand’s data position, independent agencies can endeavor to make their own resources – and those of their clients – feel bigger through the right partnerships.

This starts with education and being aware of the types of data partners in the market and building a repository of go-to resources across a range of areas. These may include tech partners that can help brands organize, measure and use their data; providers who can help brands supplement and activate data assets, build custom audiences and leverage first-party data for modeling; analytics partners to help brands measure campaign effectiveness; and channel partners who can help brands deliver their audiences and media to the right place, including growing channels like connected TV.

Not all brands require partners in every data discipline at a given time, so agencies need to be prepared to help their clients weigh the benefits and expected returns of potential partners. Also, it’s worth noting that while an agency should establish its own roster of trusted data partners, it must also remain flexible enough to work with any existing partners that its clients might bring to the table.

Suggested newsletters for you

Daily Briefing


Catch up on the most important stories of the day, curated by our editorial team.

Ads of the Week


See the best ads of the last week - all in one place.

Media Agency Briefing


Our media editor explores the biggest media buys and the trends rocking the sector.

Build team data expertise

Finally, agencies need to structure their teams in a way that acknowledges the vital role that data plays across all areas of marketing and advertising. That means not only hiring based on data competence and skills but also implementing training programs and philosophies that elevate data capabilities across all teams.

Hiring individuals with experience on the data vendor side of the industry can be an effective way to up-level an agency’s internal data capabilities, as it brings new perspectives and deeper understanding of data quality and nuance to the table. Likewise, screening for a baseline familiarity with data-driven marketing concepts and tools among new hires, even entry-level positions, can ensure everyone within an agency’s walls are aware of and able to discuss the challenges facing clients in the evolving data landscape.

Beyond hiring, agencies should also ensure their training and advancement programs give employees at all levels and in all departments the opportunity to grow their personal data literacy and capabilities. Whether a person sits in the analytics team, investment arm or creative department, having a fundamental understanding of the ways in which data powers outcomes for brands is essential to conceiving and communicating concepts to help clients succeed, particularly in uncertain economic times where advertising needs to be more targeted and efficient than ever.

While the above approach speaks specifically to the shifting data paradigm, it’s also applicable for agencies as they look to solve other industry shifts, such as the trend toward AI and web3, both of which are driving increases in brands’ support needs.

By digging deeper into clients’ internal realities, understanding where partnerships can extend capabilities and nurturing competence across the entire organization, agency leaders can ensure they’re able to keep up with the growing demands of today’s brands. Marketing and advertising are being governed by a new data paradigm. It’s time for agencies to embrace a new paradigm of their own.

Carly Dome is director of agency partnerships at Alliant. To read more from The Drum’s latest Deep Dive, where we’ll be demystifying data & privacy for marketers in 2023, head over to our special hub.

Media Data & Privacy Data

More from Media

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +