Following the launch of our refreshed brand, media & beyond last week and hearing what this new brand positioning means to Steve Harrington, this week we spoke to Ed Hill, Managing Partner, on what it means to our company, to him and our clients.

Here’s what he had to say:

What does media & beyond mean to Space & Time?

For the agency, media & beyond is about us making sure the client gets more than their press placed or their search campaign handled. It’s about the relationships our teams have with their clients and the understanding we have of our clients’ businesses. Crucially it’s also about the way we’re able to leverage this understanding to make our clients’ lives easier in ways that fall beyond the usual remit of the media agency.

By putting customer service first and making a commitment to going beyond media, we’re also able to get under the skin of a brief and to make sure that the core of our business, the planning and buying of media campaigns, is peerless.

What does media & beyond mean to you?

The flexibility of constructed ambiguity! Media & beyond is a catch-all that speaks volumes about the agency. Perhaps most obviously it describes our award-winning client service provision.

Beyond that, it describes our belief that recommending and buying media is only part of the job, and speaks of our commitment to ongoing optimisation within and across channels; of the way our single-view reporting will visualise a client’s own data and not just our own; of the way we constantly look beyond our role to see how we can improve our clients’ lives in other areas.

In a changing world, it also describes the many complementary services we offer, whether that’s CRO, content, training and consultancy, data integration or insights work.

What I like most about the line though is its dynamism, the growth and the movement it implies. The ceaseless push for refinement and improvement. This business has never stood still and it constantly strives to move beyond. ‘Good enough’ has never been good enough here, and it never will be.

How do we take your clients beyond the expected in media?

An overwhelming portion of what we do well is finding and supporting talented people. All the way through the business you’ll find whip-smart, hardworking and dedicated professionals who are committed to this agency’s success, to its clients’ success and to providing outstanding media outcomes with incredible client service.

Once that circle is squared, the rest is easy really. You just have to find the right people, give them industry-leading tech and a management team eager to listen to their ideas, and then get out of the way.

Our case studies, our awards and our reputation are testament to the way that this helps us move beyond the expected. Time and again we’re able to deliver fantastic results while making an invaluable contribution to the overall marketing operation.

Why is it important to performance marketing in 2020 that Media agencies behave more like business consultants?

It’s not good enough any longer (was it ever?) to be experts only in our industry. To deliver the most value we also need to be expert in our client’s industry, and in their specific business.

Yes, third-party tools, first-hand experience and the client’s brief will all help in this regard, but the most important fundamental these days is a willingness to engage with the minutiae of the client’s problem. We can’t just optimise the outputs of one media channel, we need also to understand the proper place of that channel within the client’s mix or the consumer’s day and then optimise across the entire piece. And to do that properly, we must be more than service providers.

This might include interrogating the brief, working within the client’s office, walking the ground, visiting the outlet, buying the product, downloading the app, informal workshops and surveys in our office. It certainly includes rigorous benchmarking and a structured approach to KPIs, and it also really helps to be at home with a huge amount of data.

It is incumbent on the performance media agency to act like a consultant because to achieve truly outstanding data-driven results we need to be comfortable in granularity while adding value at the strategic level.

What does the Digital-first / future proof Media agency look like in 2020?

A de-siloed agency structure is essential. This ensures that we’re free to be genuinely channel agnostic and flexible enough to pivot to whatever 2020 brings, whether that’s changes in tech, the economy, media consumption or politics. If I’ve got a room full of expensive and bored press buyers, can you ever be 100% certain whether I’m advising you to use the FT to suit your needs or my own? On the other hand, if I’ve got a roomful of talented and passionate multidisciplinary experts, nothing’s a problem.

Curiosity helps too, tempered with a desire to bring about the best possible results for our clients. We want to test everything and learn from it in the right way at the best time. We don’t want to just throw money at whatever’s newest and shiniest. This is where expertise comes into it: we have the experience and the judgment to know when is the most appropriate time to move our clients into voice, to trade outdoor programmatically or to reduce investment into more traditional channels.

What does Space & Time look like in its third decade?

In all the ways that matter, more of the same. Whatever changes we come across, we’ll carry forward into our third decade the same commitment to outstanding client service and competitive media buying that has enabled us to combine massive growth with such fantastic client retention over the last twenty years. We’ll do it in the same ways too: by finding and empowering outstanding people and putting them in front of our clients as often as possible.

The challenge now is to do that at scale; to grow without forgetting our roots; to avoid the temptation to stand still once the stakes are so much larger; to engender a unity of purpose when we’re 140 strong and spread across five locations; to carry into our twenties the same buccaneering spirit that typifies a small agency. It’s truly a nice problem to have.

Ed Hill, Managing Partner