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She’s back. You remember Kim? She’s a fictional marketer based closely on the real-life marketers we work with every day. In previous installments we’ve chronicled Kim’s quest for a better DMP and her attempt to move real-time marketing into actual real time. Well, recently Kim faced her greatest dilemma yet: whether to stick with her agency or to take her programmatic campaigns in-house and work directly with ad tech vendors.


How did Kim end up with that dilemma? After all, Kim likes her friends at the agency — and not only because they send over those ridiculously good cookies around the holidays every year. She knows the agency execs are super smart and very good at what they do. But, as we’ve mentioned, Kim’s an engineer by training — a geek in the best sense of the word. No matter what she’s doing she likes to know how all the pieces work, and she likes those pieces to work together with as little friction as possible.

It’s just who Kim has always been, which explains why she fixes her own racing bike, sometimes disassembling almost the whole thing in her one-bedroom apartment to locate the source of the slightest friction. When her fiance sees the place covered in bike parts and grease he can’t understand why Kim doesn’t just take the bike to the shop like everyone else. But that’s just not how Kim rolls.

Which brings us back to Kim’s recent dilemma. Kim, as you might expect, brings her DIY spirit to the office each morning, and her inclination to tinker has left her wondering what happens under the hood of her programmatic campaigns. She’d certainly seen the benefits the agency brought to the table — especially when it came to creative energy and the ability to keep messages consistent across different media. But then she’d also seen the drawbacks of working with the agency, and not just the obvious ones, such as the added costs.
Worse yet, Kim was getting frustrated by all the cooks working in her programmatic kitchen. She was tired of losing valuable work time over simple chores, such as updating the pixels on a brand site. She knew it would be much simpler if she could just work directly with the vendor.

But, as Kim explained to a colleague over a takeout lunch one afternoon, her interest in working with vendors wasn’t just about convenience. It was also about a feeling of missing out. She always had so many questions about programmatic technology and how to make it work better, and yet all of the vendor’s experience and wisdom was going to the agency rather than to Kim and her company, the people who were actually paying the bills.
And so Kim found herself wandering through the office’s maze of cubicles and fantasizing about doing things another way. If her team worked directly with the ad tech vendor, her CFO would be thrilled by the savings. And her CTO wouldn’t have to stay up all night worrying about safeguarding the company’s data. For so many different reasons, it just made sense to go in-house.

The surprising part? When friends at other companies ask Kim if they should follow her lead, she doesn’t necessarily say “yes.” Instead, Kim tells her friends that every company has unique needs. Her company had the resources to go in-house but many other companies don’t and will suffer without the agency’s know-how.
Kim, meanwhile, is getting ready to sit down with her ad-tech vendors for the first time. It’s a long overdue meeting and Kim can’t wait — now she just needs to make sure she gets all the bike grease off of her nails before it starts.

Plomion-Ben_ChangoBen Plomion is the VP of Marketing at Chango. Prior to that he was at GE Capital, where he established the digital media practice.

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by Brandon Gutman
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Brandon is an expert connector and seasoned business development professional. As Principal of Brand Approved, he's led the advisory to become the bridge between brand marketers and best of breed service providers that are reshaping the industry.

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