Do your media & advertising agencies need relationship counselling?

Barry Fearn • 11th May 2017

Recently, I read Brian Millar’s article in The Drum, “When I returned to advertising after 10 years I assumed it would have changed – I was wrong”.

It’s well worth a read in its own right but, to summarise, he left the advertising industry around 10 years ago to work in new product development. Fast forward to the present day and expected to find a changed advertising landscape. Instead, he’s been bemused to find advertising agencies don’t seem to have caught up with the opportunities offered by the data revolution.

The problem? Apparently media agencies are feeding their data and insights across to advertising agencies… only for it to be ignored.

Media and Advertising – the eternal schism?

I think I’m in a fairly strong position to have a take on the situation Brian Millar outlines. I’m co-owner and MD of Lane Media, the media arm of The Lane Agency. The Lane Agency has a strong pedigree in marketing and advertising. As a family of businesses, sharing the same office and the same culture, we’re relatively unusual in this day and age in combining both media buying and advertising expertise under the one roof. Unusual and fortunate.

Why fortunate? Well, for one thing, any insights we supply to or receive from The Lane Agency don’t have to get over that hurdle of being seen as part of the other agency’s agenda. We’re working together. There’s no ego involved in giving and taking feedback based on our experiences from our own disciplines.

While it’s not big and it’s not clever, it’s undeniable that agencies will sometimes want to outdo partner agencies rather than work with them. The end result of that, of course, is that everyone’s work suffers. As does the client’s bottom line.

How can Media inform Advertising?

A simple way in which media can inform your advertising agency is in keeping them informed on current developments and opportunities. One example would be the rise of digital out-of-home advertising (DOOH), which my Lane Media colleague Natalie Henderson covered in a recent blog.

The opportunities offered by reactive, day parted and contextual advertising still need the skill of an advertising team before they can be fully capitalised on. But it’s the media agency who obtain this information first from the numerous media owners, who advise their clients on the most relevant opportunities, thus, often, the advertising partners are the last to know some of the myriad of options that exist.

At Lane Media, we’re also working with data on a daily basis. We’re running paid social media campaigns across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linked In, Google Adwords and Bing search campaigns and traditional media TV, campaigns too. That combination brings us regular insights into things like what topics are performing well, what formats are performing well, what audiences are out there and what type of messaging they respond best to.

In days gone by, that’s the kind of information that it might have taken endless focus groups for an advertising agency to come by. We can supply it quickly and easily, giving them a headstart on creating the perfect campaign for your brand.

How can advertising inform media?

We help our advertising teams to understand what’s possible and in return they do the same for us. It’s easy for us to look at a spreadsheet and come to one conclusion, but we look to tap into their years of experience. They can work with a knowledge of human psychology and of design. Our data isn’t there to override them, it’s there for them to work with.

As a client, what should you look for in Media and Advertising agencies?

Every modern agency will tell you that they take a ‘360’ approach, that they use data and that they work with existing partner agencies. Whilst they will certainly do that, in a modern, fragmented and ever-changing media landscape, the difference with us is that you can come into our office and see media and advertising teams talking through ideas together everyday, which is a rarity in many other agency set ups.

If you’d like to meet them then please drop an email to

Barry Fearn is MD of Lane Media, the media arm of multiple award winning Edinburgh-based The Lane Agency.

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