Media Buying Briefing: While some see in-housing slowing down, one new player is looking to move in with brands

Illustration of four different people working at their desks.

This Media Buying Briefing covers the latest in agency news and media buying for Digiday+ members and is distributed over email every Monday at 10 a.m. ET. More from the series →

The storyline of marketers in-housing some or all of their media duties at the expense of media agencies, particularly those owned by holding companies, has been told many times over the last few years. But as recently as last week, Digiday colleagues Seb Joseph and Kimeko McCoy threw a little cold water on that notion, explaining that some marketers have put in-housing plans on ice for economic and political reasons.

Still, that didn’t stop You & Mr. Jones, a self-described brandtech company started in 2015 by ex-Havas Global CEO David Jones, from announcing last week the launch of You & Mr. Jones Media, which is armed with an apparent $300 million acquisition war chest. Jones brought on Nick Emery, the former global CEO of Mindshare, to run You & Mr. Jones Media, with a goal of creating “residencies” for clients.

“We’ll come in, examine your contracts, develop a strategy, do a full-funnel, warehouse-to-wallet strategy that you can own, and we’ll partner with you every step of the way,” said Emery. “It’s the idea that we’d create bespoke made-to-measure residencies for clients based around what we think are their needs around marketing. It’s about in-housing, transparency and technology. If you’re the CMO, you want 5-10 people you can really trust who give you the best advice, are on your side, and know the marketplace. It’s important that it’s our people going in there not the client hiring them full-time.”

Emery explained that You & Mr. Jones, the parent company, has already amassed a sizeable blend of owned and partner companies that provide the tech, data, creative and executional talent that brands want, which will aid the media arm in convincing marketers they need their services.

The white space he sees is that media agencies focus on pricing above all else in striking new deals with clients. “We’ve made media a dirty word: it’s executional, transactional, all about price, not very transparent, a bit murky, and doesn’t understand the tech stack,” said Emery.

Consultancies, meanwhile, are hired guns without commitment. “They’re very good at coming and giving you 20 slides of recommendation, and then leaving with a big check,” he added. “They’re very smart people, great at diagnosing problems, but not so good at solving them and holding your hand through that.”

The degree to which You & Mr. Jones Media breaks through with its brandtech approach remains to be seen. Part of that is up to the marketer, said Kristina Goldberg, vp of strategic services at data management provider Adswerve.

“One of my concerns for brands is when you want to change something that quickly. That’s great to want, but make sure your organization is set up to ingest that change,” said Goldberg, who had handled programmatic at media agency Spark Foundry before joining Adswerve. “Are you also hiring different people, or are you just taking the agency talent and moving them in-house? That’s not different — that’s been happening for years. You’re just shifting the ownership. How are you using it? What’s the outcome of the change? That’s where the real value is.”

Goldberg sees agencies as acting sort of as an insurancy policy for clients, if they’re doing their job correctly, which would continue to inhibit the in-housing trend, at least on the media side.

“A lot has to do with the what-you-don’t-see elements, the non-sexy stuff that an agency is really good at and has been doing forever: billing and reconciliation; wider deal negotiation,” she said. “What if you’ve in-housed and your trader makes a mistake in a platform? You still have to pay the platform or media provider. Your agency was probably covering that on your behalf.”

Still, Emery said he sees an opportunity to go in-house with clients that are lost in tech-stack hell, at media agencies’ expense. “Our view is that 40 percent of ad-tech and mar-tech is inefficient — wasted might be a strong word. Between multiple DSPs, confusion between CDPs and DMPs, not optimizing in the right way, not having the right tech contracts. [Brands] can save that 40 percent, which will fund your transformation and full-funnel approach to strategy. There’s a whole wave of progressive clients who want a different approach to their media.”

Time will tell if Emery and Mr. Jones are right.

Color by numbers

Late-night television may not draw huge audiences like Johnny Carson and David Letterman back in the day, but the battle among today’s late-night shows remains intense. But its winners and losers are rather different on the digital stage versus their linear TV base of operations. Tubular Labs, which aims to widen the aperture of video measurement by focusing on social video, dove into the primary late-night shows and their social video impact. “The market wants a cross-channel measurement system that evaluates social video as it does TV,” said Scott Ernst, Tubular Labs CEO. Here’s how Tubular ranks the players on social by their March 2021 numbers (including each show’s primary demographic delivery), which is nearly the inverse of their linear TV ratings:

The Tonight Show w/ Jimmy Fallon (NBC): 19.5 million unique viewers 

  • Top demos: Men 25-34 (3.2 million unique viewers); Women 25-34 (2.9 million); Men 18-24 (2.8 million); Women 18 – 24 (2.6 million)

The Late Late Show w/ James Corden (CBS): 15 million unique viewers 

  • Top demos: Women 18-24 (2.4 million unique viewers); Women 25-34 (2.4 million); Men 25-34 (1.9 million); Men 18-24 (1.8 million)

Jimmy Kimmel Live (ABC): 12.4 million unique viewers

  • Top demos: Men 25-34 (2.5 million unique viewers); Men 18-24 (1.8million); Men 35-44 (1.5 million); Women 25-34 (1.3 million)

The Daily Show w/ Trevor Noah (Comedy Central): 11.6 million unique viewers

  • Top demos: Men 25-34 (2 million unique viewers); Men 34-35 (1.6 million); Women 25-34 (1.3 million); Men 55+ (1.3 million)

The Late Show w/ Stephen Colbert (CBS): 10 million unique viewers 

  • Top demos: Men 25-34 (1.6 million unique viewers); Men 55+ (1.5 million); Men 34-44 (1.4 million); Women 55+ (1 million).

Takeoff and landing

  • Behr named IPG’s UM its media agency of record in the U.S., handling all media strategy, planning, buying, and data/analytics. The incumbent shop was Haworth Media. Sources estimate Behr’s annual media spend at about $50 million.
  • Havas Media Group hired Meghan Grant from Zenith Media as chief strategy officer, North America, reporting directly into global CEO Peter Mears.

Direct quote

“It’s about content, and linking creators to our clients so we will be successful on the platform. The thing I really love about TikTok is the ability to organically talk to an audience that’s getting harder and harder to reach — and it’s still video, which is awesome.”

MAGNA U.S. president Dani Benowitz on how to spend clients’ dollars in video.

Speed reading

  • Digiday senior news editor Seb Joseph explains that media agencies are making a more serious attempt at ethical buying, after years of lip service, but that it’s not as easy as it seems. 
  • Amidst a battle with the linear TV companies about who’s to blame for serious ratings dips during the pandemic, Nielsen has said it will expand its measurement of streaming with time-spent metrics, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

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.