Media Experts

Media Experts' rejig pays off

Staff: 130
Offices: Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver
New business: Lise Watier, Intercontinental Hotels Group, Hankook Tire, Personal Injury Alliance

There's always room for another accolade. Despite a step down from last year's Silver Media Agency of the Year position, Media Experts stays in the winners' circle with Bronze.

Three years ago, the agency reshaped itself as a "tradigital" agency. This reorganization of staff into roles that bridge both digital and traditional media to create holistic planning and buying roles has helped the agency to better manage consumer interaction with paid media messages, says Mark Sherman, founder, owner and executive chairman of the Canadian independent.

Media Experts' blending of online and offline competencies has helped glean profitable results for BMW and its 2012 M5 model, says Sherman. For the vehicle, the agency's planners and buyers built a campaign across a web of channels to drive eyeballs and bring attention to the brands centerpiece video "Bullet." The spot, which shows the car in contrasting scenes of extreme high speed and super slow motion, was housed on BMWs YouTube page and supported by online and cinema advertising, in addition to an outdoor domination.

The execution, with its inspiring end results, including two million video views garnered over the first weekend of its debut (doubled over the course of a month) and sales that exceeded BMW's target by 63%, illustrate the cross-media work Media Experts is pushing out. Sherman believes there is merit in meshing offline dominations with online, noting this played a fundamental role in generating scale for the BMW video within just a few days.

The agency employs 130 people, and of that, nearly 90 staff from the planning, operations and account services departments are involved in digital investment management in some way, notes Sherman.

But the agency still requires specialists, he says, adding that "digital solutions" is the largest single department in the company, counting some 30-odd individuals.

Media Experts endorses agency-wide education of consumer behaviour across all media, says Sherman, noting that the company must evolve as a whole rather than have a director of consumer insights directing the agency on how to adapt to the changing mediascape.

"Training and encouraging every employee to gain insights about the purchase path has an ever-increasing importance," he says. "In our company, people are neither buyer nor planner, but both. That way they can see the bigger picture, and they have their fingers in a lot of different areas and experience media in the same manner the consumer does."

It's this reaction and adaptation to the evolving mediascape that has allowed Media Experts to become a magnet for young talent, Sherman says, adding that digital has served as "an entry point into our agency for the brightest and smartest kids who are attracted by [its] fast-changing pace [and who then] become attracted to how all of it fits together as an ecosystem." He adds: "These folks have analytical skills and imagination untainted by stale, traditional business models."

Earlier this year, two of Media Experts' young stars - media planner Valerie Whiffen and senior broadcast negotiator Chris Walton - won the Globe and Mail's Canadian stage of the Young Lions competition and strategy named the duo two of its Next Media Star finalists. They were recognized for a YMCA campaign idea that brought people closer to the organization's community through a mobile app.

Sherman believes it's the agency's support for cross-pollination that allows its staff to produce media plans offering a holistic view of the marketplace.

Cross-media management of the path to purchase has become in vogue since digital shook the industry out of a standstill, adds Sherman. "We don't spend a lot of time thinking about how it was and how it is. I think we spend time changing and adapting," he says.

"Media has become a very exciting and fascinating discipline," says Sherman, who's witnessed the change over several decades. "Up until six years ago, we were in the dark ages of media, and were now just coming into the renaissance. We're beginning to deal with data and attributions and analytics, and we're getting close to the Holy Grail and making connections between investments and return.

"All of that, we're just at the beginning."