Four Key Takeaways from a Media Internalization Journey

November 24th, 2022 | , Raphaël Metter-Rothan, Media Director, Desjardins/ Charles Beaulieu, Partner and Chief Innovation Officer, Glassroom

image of a race track with runners in triangular formMore than five years into our media transformation, it was right time we began to look at the things we’ve learned, the gains we’ve made and the challenges we’ve faced. With this article, we wanted to share our key takeaways from the past five years.

We invite you to have another look at our previous article, in which we explain what our hybrid media specialization model between Desjardins and Glassroom looks like.

Takeaway #1: The vision may be set in stone, but the path isn’t

Let’s face it. We have a somewhat unhealthy obsession with our project’s vision (our team is laughing at us as they read this 😁)! But we must admit, five years later, this vision is the foundation, the framework and the guiding force that have allowed us to lead our big team toward an ambitious destination. In the roller coaster ride that is this kind of transformation, the project’s vision helps us bring together all the different players, with a shared understanding of the project’s key elements, but also with a shared language.

This vision must be repeated ad nauseam until it’s assimilated and embraced by everyone involved in this adventure. As Adam Grant puts it so well: “When you’re tired of your message, it’s just starting to land.” This vision helps right the ship, which, by the transformative nature of its mission, will encounter many a storm along the way. As you can see, this vision is non-negotiable because it guides not only the spirit of our team but also the implementation of a business plan. Like we said, foundation.

But the path, now that’s a different story. It’s created as a team. It can be adjusted, be updated, get broken down into different parts, be put to the test – and still remain agile. This path is your buy-in to empower your team and get them to commit to a long-term vision. It needs to be well thought out by your leaders, but its conception and implementation must also include input from the majority of your team members. Repeat this mantra: There’s only one way to climb a mountain: one step at a time!

Takeaway #2: There’s no one-size-fits-all approach

As with any success story, we can ask ourselves if it can be repeated elsewhere. As far as media specialization is concerned, it’s clear that many advertisers could benefit from its application, but, let us be clear: there’s no magic bullet – you must figure out what works for you!

Seek inspiration in your brand’s values, in its DNA, in its strengths, in what it brings out of your employees. See whether other industry players have tried this kind of transformation, whether they failed at it or succeeded – and not just in Canada, but also in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. The idea is to learn from each other’s experiences, the good and the bad, the wins and losses, but also the different methodologies that brands have tried. There’s a wealth of knowledge to be had from speaking with players from all walks of life, so great and diverse are the media internalization possibilities.

For us, this research was a key moment in building our business case. It helped us broaden our thinking and find our own approach: an inclusive hybrid model!

Takeaway #3: Your biggest hurdle will be human, not technological

When we meet different brand marketing decision-makers from across the country, the first question they typically ask us is: Do you own your own tech stack? How did you do it? People’s first reflex is to worry about technology when initiating (or thinking about initiating) media internalization.

But we believe your biggest hurdle will be human! Any digital transformation naturally involves technological changes, but the biggest change is human. It affects your employees, on both the brand and the agency side, as well as your media partners, internal partners and technology partners.

Internalizing means updating processes, changing ways of doing things and adjusting work methods. But above all, it means redefining each team member’s roles and responsibilities. Working with change management professionals is a must that will ensure everyone is on the same page and, above all, can handle the transformation as well as any bumps along the way.

Bonus takeaway: Yes, the media agency can bring real added value to this process

Right or wrong, media internalization is often viewed as the bad guy that wants to do away with agencies! Let me be clear: such a shortcut robs brands and agencies of a potentially powerful collaboration! The media agency has an important role to play, so long as it listens to its partner, grasps its needs and its vision, and adapts in parallel alongside the brand’s transformation! The symbiosis of the two environments is a powerful weapon for maximizing business results and enriching the profession!

That said, the brand must be transparent with its agency: initiate hard conversations, tell them what its goals are and why they’re undertaking this transformation, let them know what kind of collaboration they want and what criteria are important to them. The vision must be shared, without any hidden agendas on either side. It’s an essential condition for this transformation to succeed.

For its part, the agency must be able to step out of its comfort zone when it comes to collaboration, must listen and accept that it won’t have all the answers right away, and show its client how, in the long term, it can bring them real added value.

Here’s an unpopular opinion: media specialization models can be profitable for both sides! The question of the agency business model is central to this journey. When it comes to hard conversations, this is often the hardest. But in our experience, this is precisely where the fun begins 😊

headshot of Raphaël-Metter-RothanRaphaël Metter-Rothan, Media Director, Desjardins 

As Desjardins’ Media Director, Raphaël manages the leading cooperative financial group’s strategic media planning and digital media campaign management and optimization for all national initiatives across multiple channels.

He is the driver behind Desjardins’ performant media teams, sustainable paid media presence and in-house media specialization and he also successfully launched an innovative one-team collaborative approach between the brand and their media agency.

Prior to joining Desjardins, Raphaël spent more than 10 years at several leading advertising and media agencies in Europe and Quebec, including Publicis and Zenith Optimedia.

When he’s not at work, you can find him running mountains and soaking up the view.

headshot of Charles BeaulieuCharles Beaulieu, Partner and Chief Innovation Officer, Glassroom

It was at Bos and Adviso that Charles developed his cutting-edge media expertise with a focus on digital data synchronization and analytics. Shaw Communications, Desjardins, Air Canada, and the Quebec Toyota Dealers Association, amongst others, have all applauded his ability to maximize ROI. Ask our partner and general manager and he’ll tell you that the secret to a successful campaign lies in data optimization and business intelligence. With Glassroom, Charles has made it his mission to disrupt the way things are done in the industry by championing a culture of integrity, compliance, and knowledge transfer.