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Media agencies are experiencing change on a historical scale. 'Sellers of advertising space' are turning into consultation houses that operate across all sections of marketing. Heidi Björklöf, Managing Director at the media agency Carat, explains that new skill sets and fresh thinking are needed in marketing.
"We need to understand what makes consumers tick. We have to move our focus from mass segments to individuals." These are the words of Heidi Björklöf, the managing director of one of Finland's largest media agencies, Carat, and they accurately describe the change that media agencies and the entire media industry are going through at the moment.
Essentially, a media agency used to be the place where you went after an advertising agency had created a marketing campaign to discuss where to achieve the best visibility for the campaign.
The shift towards consultation services is also evident in the agencies' conventional core task, buying visibility in media. This is carried out semi-automatically in systems such as Google or Facebook, but Björklöf says that it does not eliminate the fact that you need to have the right skills.
"The Facebook algorithm, for example, reflects a user's previous areas of interest. It's not, however, able to offer anything new that the user hasn't indicated an interest in."
Similarly, professional skills are required when applying analytics. "You can drown in data unless you understand what affects what, and how. Finding the cause and effect is our job."
Björklöf says that media agencies now often take the role of 'an air traffic controller' in addition to their normal daily tasks. They help their customers to allocate their marketing budgets where they achieve the best return. "In order to do this, you have to understand complex systems."
17 May 2016