Media Buying Briefing: Tackling transformation in all forms at this week’s Digiday Media Buying Summit

Illustration of a puzzle that spells out the word 'media.'

This article is part of Digiday’s coverage of its Digiday Media Buying Summit. More from the series →

It comes as a shock to no one in the media agency world that change and transformation are happening faster and faster seemingly every year. It’s a main reason Digiday hosts a twice-yearly Media Buying Summit, to offer a forum for media agencies of all stripes and sizes to share their pain points and success stories around transformation. 

Our next Summit takes place this week, at the Miramonte Indian Wells Resort & Spa just south of Palm Springs, Calif., starting Oct. 12 and wrapping up Oct. 14. (Click here to register to attend.) This fall’s theme hits on programmatic issues, but discussions will will range from clean rooms to consolidation to video to measurement to e-commerce to diversity and inclusion in the metaverse. We try to run the gamut of issues and opportunities facing media agency executives. 

The macro effects of the two year pandemic we are still trying to get past continue to linger over the media industry, but even in that span of time the lessons we thought were going to be long-term may be more fungible. Though e-commerce and retail media have exploded as options for clients to get closer to their customers — and media agencies everywhere are expanding their expertise — brick-and-mortar stores are making a comeback as well, which few people predicted.

Media is hot right now, by any of the names in which it’s popping up. Just last week showed two examples of creative agencies adding media elements to their client offerings: Zambezi launching Scale by Zambezi, and Anomaly’s launch of a media studio.

But it literally is by any other name as well, since last week also brought news that Stagwell Media Network was rebranding itself as Stagwell Brand Performance, a tacit acknowledgment that media as we have known it since the days of Mad Men (TV, radio, print, outdoor) is rapidly morphing into multiple paths to the consumer, some easier to tread, others much harder.

And that’s why we come together to talk about the issues surrounding those macro events. The summit features speakers from holding companies including Publicis, Omnicom, Havas Media Group, GroupM and IPG Media, as well as independents like Bounteous, Group Black and Known.

Among the themes we’ll address, ask about and hopefully get some answers and guidance on at the summit:


How does the programmatic form of investing in media need to change, now that it’s as chock full of premium inventory, but also rife with duplication and even fraud? 

How can the industry harness technology including artificial intelligence without letting the tech take over? 

What are the best guides to balancing speed and efficiency with depth and understanding?


How can we decipher what’s a long-lasting and permanent consumer habit change brought on by the pandemic from a temporary change that will fade as life returns to normal? Can we even figure that out? 

The amount of choice for consumers to digest content keeps growing — how can the industry keep up with tracking them and reaching them without being invasive? 

Why haven’t the streaming/connected TV players figured out how not to bombard viewers with repetitive ad messages? How can media agencies help tell a better and more effective story? 


Research shows that in a recession, brands might de-emphasize focusing on ESG efforts. How can media agencies keep that as a priority? Should they even? 

Will the industry be able to agree upon standards of measurement of carbon use in advertising and media in order to work on decarbonization? 


Does a clean room really deliver better results and where is it advantageous versus unnecessary?

How likely are newer forms of measurement, such as attention, to become foundational elements of media investment? 

How are media agencies shaping the future of a cookieless world today, even as Google keeps kicking the can down the road? 


Given its newness, does the metaverse offer the best opportunity for true diversity and equity in the media world?

If you’d like answers to these questions, join us in Indian Wells next week — it’s not too late to come. For those who can’t make it, my colleagues Antoinette Siu, media agency reporter, Digiday editor-in-chief Jim Cooper and I will distill as much content as we can over the course of the summit, through stories, social video clips and wrap up coverage next week.  

Color by numbers

Need further proof a recession is headed our way? More Americans are canceling their streaming subscriptions to save money in the last few months. Amazon Prime is seeing the most cancellations, but Disney+ and HBO Max are also suffering. Based on a spending survey by CasinoGuardian with 2,000 U.S. adults, it seems people are aiming to reduce costs as inflation continues to soar. Some stats:

  • Around one in five (22%) have canceled at least one streaming subscription in the last three months to cut costs, 
  • One in 10 people admitted to illegally streaming content via desktop or apps to avoid streaming services.
  • People are also cutting spending in other areas: 13% reduced traveling abroad, while 11% reducing online shopping. Streaming services were seen as the biggest drop in consumer interest as being an unnecessary expense.
  • More people were keen on keeping their Netflix and Hulu subscriptions, but both have seen some drop in users recently. — Antoinette Siu

Takeoff & landing

  • As expected, Stagwell rebranded its Stagwell Media Network, dubbing it Stagwell Brand Performance Network, a nod to the inclusion of creative, commerce and other performance-related agencies into the group. Meanwhile, corporate sibling agency Anomaly launched a media studio to enhance and bring in house its own comms strategy practice, naming Will de Lannoy to head it up (see below for some of de Lannoy’s thoughts). 
  • Serviceplan’s U.S. media agency MediaPlus won media planning and buying duties for small appliance maker De’Longhi. The agency now handles De’Longhi’s business in 30 markets, including the U.S. 
  • Zambezi launched its own media agency, Scale by Zambezi, which will handle some $50 million in media spend for clients including Google Fiber, Traeger Grills and Health-Ade. Leading the unit will be chief media officer Grace Teng. 
  • Independent agency Media Matters Worldwide hired Alison Finley to serve as vp of media, following a 16-year stint at Wavemaker, most recently as managing partner in the GroupM media agency’s San Francisco office.  

Direct quote

“We’ve always seen creative and media as two sides of the same coin. Given the pace of change in the media landscape right now, that’s never been more true or more critical. With an active media planning/buying practice, we can be more complete business partners to our clients – even those we aren’t doing media for.”

—Will de Lannoy, head of media and new engagement models, North America, at Anomaly’s new media studio launched last week.

Speed reading

  • Digiday’s media agency reporter Antoinette Siu examines how changing relationships and expectations from clients have media agencies and publishers amending their office and real-estate plans. 
  • Senior news editor Seb Joseph delves into why the data industrial complex is hard to get in line with changing demands over consumer privacy. One big culprit: the rules are too loosely written.
  • I wrote about how political advertising in a hotly-contested mid-term election year is clashing mightily with holiday advertising that’s looking to jumpstart shopping at a time of possible recession. In other words, it’s a bit of a mess out there

More in Media

NewFronts Briefing: Samsung, Condé Nast, Roku focus presentations on new ad formats and category-specific inventory

Day two of IAB’s NewFronts featured presentations from Samsung, Condé Nast and Roku, highlighting new partnerships, ad formats and inventory, as well as new AI capabilities.

The Athletic to raise ad prices as it paces to hit 3 million newsletter subscribers

The New York Times’ sports site The Athletic is about to hit 3 million total newsletter subscribers. It plans to raise ad prices as as a result of this nearly 20% year over year increase.

NewFronts Briefing: Google, Vizio and news publishers pitch marketers with new ad offerings and range of content categories

Day one of the 2024 IAB NewFronts featured presentations from Google and Vizio, as well as a spotlight on news publishers.