We’re kicking off a new series, Digital Conversations, in which we talk shop with some of the brightest minds in marketing technology and digital advertising. Today we catch up with Stella Voutsina, VP of Global Media Operations & Technology at Dentsu Aegis, a key agency partner with Signal.
What’s your role at Dentsu Aegis?
I focus on technology and problem-solving for clients. I look for the best technology products and solutions that will help our clients increase ROI and get more value from data. I’m based in Detroit, where my focus is on a global automaker.
The advertising and marketing technology landscape has become so complicated. How is this impacting your clients?
The days where one agency does everything are over. A global advertiser may operate in 80 markets around the world — and may work with 12 to 15 partners in the U.S. alone for advertising, creative, digital, search, social media, media planning and buying and more. From a global perspective, there may be more than 100 partners around the world, each with their own toolsets, which aren’t integrated with the others. There are many internal stakeholders across IT, marketing and sales organizations. Plus there are very big volumes of data generated by each partner, terabytes of data that you are trying to manage. It’s complex and demanding and you have to be on top of it everyday. It’s a huge operational challenge and you need to find ways to create synergies and share data across a vast network of partners and stakeholders. No one wins if you are not collaborative.
How are you managing these tremendous volumes of engagement data across such an intricate ecosystem?
We saw the need to work with specialized technology partners that can help us solve these challenges. The first problem we needed to address was how to collect data from our clients’ websites in an organized way. That was my first partnership with Signal back in 2012. We wanted to help clients process, analyze and use big data in a concise, organized and intelligent way. It’s about the quality of data, and how we become more efficient and resourceful for clients.
We went to Signal and outlined the dimensions of what we were trying to achieve, and Signal became the foundational data layer, the link that connects with every other technology partner the client has. The independence and neutrality of Signal’s platform allowed us to build the case for our approach. We involved all the client stakeholders and all the clients’ agency partners so they all benefit by having access to more data and better data. I honestly don’t think we could have solved the data-and-technology complexity problem without Signal. They’ve built long-term trust with us through the quality of service they provide to our clients and the collaborative approach they take – that’s been a differentiator. They’ve played a critical role in helping our clients get more value from data.
What capabilities are critical for agencies over the next year or two?
Speed is crucial and by that I mean minimizing lost time. You have a matter of hours to launch a campaign or a few days for a new technology. You don’t have weeks or months anymore. Signal is providing the capability we need to adapt quickly and move fast.
Another key priority is helping clients get a single view of the customer. Signal is the enterprise solution that allows us to unify data across channels and use that holistic view to be better marketers. That’s about merging engagement data and cross-channel identity to deliver personalized messaging and more efficient targeting.
When your data sources are siloed, you are not able to put the consumer at the center of your marketing. When you are trying to understand the consumer, you want the best and highest quality data. When you have a unified view, you know if the customer converted from digital or offline sources, and you’re able to analyze consumer behavior in an efficient and effective way. It saves us time and resources. It’s the holy grail in allowing us to derive the best intelligence and operational efficiencies from data-driven marketing.
You recently completed your master’s degree in international relations. How is that helping you to be a better marketer?
I have an international background, and I’ve worked in four different countries: Greece, Spain, the U.K. and U.S. The media landscape from country to country is so different, and the political and economic climate in each market varies so much, it creates great complexity for our global clients. I wanted to help clients deal with this complexity.