When we are looking to plan and execute a digital campaign, increasingly there is a need to look at not just WHERE we place our campaigns, but the context into which we place them. This is not just being driven by the rise of the “social web”, but by a transformation in the way that we view the relationships between agencies, clients and consumers.

In this interesting presentation by Don Epperson from Havas, he looks at the way in which their agency is transforming. In effect, they are following the model that has worked so well for Google.

By working from a single source of analytical data, Havas is able to aggregate a a whole lot of data based on actual behaviour. The trick is, rather than collecting data on a campaign level, the data warehouse captures information at a cookie level; meaning that the micro-transactions can be measured, tracked and aggregated. Then, by using an online advertising marketplace, the individual preferences of the people interacting with the system (banners/placements etc) can be auctioned to advertisers in a very granular way. This is what Don claims, is the agency of the future:

The agency of the future is going to act very much like the large ad networks today … we have to have scale in terms of reach, we have to be able to turn … data into knowledge …

All this, in turn (I am sure), feeds into their planning process – meaning that campaigns and activations become more targeted, more valuable to the consumer, and more meaningful to the client. It’s much like the potential on offer with Pure Profile.

As Matthew Mantey explains in this excellent post, Banners – Do They Work?, there is a mountain of data and insight to be found in even the simplest digital advertising campaign – so imagine what happens when you magnify this by a factor of 10, or 100, or 100,000:

Run one with even cursory tracking and analytics and you can find a mountain of insights.  Obviously click-based conversions is the unrealistic grail you'll see, but if you set a cookie window, you'll see all of the view-based actions as well.  You'll know the optimal exposure frequency level.  You'll see the search patterns, branded and unbranded.  You'll see format and message trends.  You'll see geographic detail.  And you'll probably find out that who you were targeting aren't the same demo that are interested in your stuff and coming to your site.

Is this the agency model of the future? Using technology to combine insight and targeted content within a permissible context sounds like the holy grail. The challenge would be putting the right pieces and partnerships together.

However, as I delve more into the concept of social judgement, I have a feeling that this sort of opportunity is just the tip of the iceberg. After all, taking this insight and opening it up to a social component during campaign activation could be where the REAL opportunity lies.