Bird's eye view

Why tech stacks aren’t the antithesis of creative planning

Digital pitch briefs always include a question about the agency’s tech stack, the answer of which is usually stuffed into a leave behind document far away from the core response. This is because for a long time, answering the question has been a no-win situation. Focussing on your preferred core partners in each space could easily lose the pitch due to your perceived lack of expertise with tools the client uses. On the other hand, the agnostic approach and showing an extensive list of options could also be deemed lacking in strategic direction and thought leadership.

Technology stacks are complicated and often messy, which makes them very difficult to visualise and explain. The industry standard has become a slide of logos often categorised into different purposes, accompanied by a fairly generic narrative trying to cover all the bases. It has become a box ticking exercise and has fallen into the hygiene section of pitch processes when in fact, it should be the opposite. Technology is exciting. It is the enabler that makes innovative work possible. It should take centre stage alongside creative concepts and media strategy. So how do we lift technology out of the appendix section only read by procurement, and integrate it into the core response?

Technology is a golden thread that runs throughout everything that media agencies do, from planning teams to data scientists. It shouldn’t be siloed into its own section of content; it should be scattered throughout response to briefs as an integral part of the planning process.

At The Kite Factory, we have a planning process called FlightPath™ which takes clients from exploration of the opportunity to post-launch campaign performance enhancement. And whilst we think our approach is obviously best, all agencies do have a similar framework – this thought process isn’t exactly revolutionary. However, what does make it different is how we integrate both our own proprietary technology and that of 3rd party partners.

We put insights provided by tools at the heart of our responses, along with the technology that enables ground-breaking targeting, content formats and measurement. As an agency, saying we invest hundreds of thousands on tools every year might reassure a client, but what they really want to understand is what is the benefit to them. How will it help their business and impact their bottom line? The simple answer is that tool insights inform data-driven decision making, and technology drives efficiencies beyond what’s possible manually.

At the last count we had 38 tech partners in our toolbox, but by the time you read this that will probably have grown. No one can have strong working knowledge of so many tools, which is why the tools are mapped to different stages of our FlightPath™ process, along with different stakeholders. Obviously, some tools sit at multiple stages playing different roles, but it means the specialists engage with a much more manageable number of tools and department heads can own their own technology budgets and partnerships.

The danger with so many sources of data is that learnings can become scattered in lots of different places with a high risk of being forgotten or even ignored. This is where FlightDeck™, our proprietary insight engine comes in. It isn’t just a reporting dashboard replacing weekly excel spreadsheets, it sits at and fuels every stage of the FlightPath™ process, pulling data across all the tools to create a single source of the truth. Whilst nothing can replace the art of craft planning, FlightDeck™ stitches everything together to provide crucial context to performance.

We need to stop thinking that tech stacks are the antithesis of creative planning. Not only are these two pivotal elements of marketing more interdependent than we give credit, but in fact the line between the two is becoming increasingly blurred.

By Ben Foster, Managing Partner Digital