AI Isn’t Coming for Anyone’s Job

Standfirst://Recognising the chasm between hype and reality

Like you, I was awed and a bit scared when OpenAI rolled out ChatGPT earlier this year. All at once generative AI burst onto the scene, making all sorts of promises (and prompting many to fear the loss of their jobs in the process). We were asked to picture a world in which generative AI would allow anyone with an idea but no skills to write a screenplay, along with the musical score to go with it. In fact, generative AI is one of the reasons why Hollywood writers are on strike today.
Closer to home, generative AI would replace what Paragon Digital Services teams do daily, setting up campaigns, analyzing results, optimizing audiences and targeting criteria in real time, as well as generating reports for clients.The challenge with these claims? To put it simply, they exceed the capabilities of generative AI. Before we go down a spiral of hysteria, let’s establish what generative AI actually is. As it happens, this is the perfect question for ChatGPT, and so I asked it:

The most important sentence in ChatGPT’s answer is “It uses deep learning models to generate content that mimics human-like patterns or styles.” Let’s dive into this a bit.
Generative AI, like all machine learning, must be trained on data. In the case of generative AI, that data is all the human ideas that have been created in the past. ChatGPT will predict what someone might say based on what people said in the past. And while it’s absolutely true generative AI can produce “unique and creative outputs,” it can’t guarantee that any of those outputs will be true or accurate as it has no way to verify its responses against external sources.
ChatGPT will be the first to say as much:

ChatGPT Can’t Keep Up with the Speed of Advertising
The other challenge with generative AI is that it can’t keep up with our fast-paced business environment. Let’s say you’re a brand manager for a home mortgage company, consider how much has changed since the pandemic years. In September 2021, mortgage rates were as low as 1%, and everyone, it seemed, was in the market for a new home, along with furniture to furnish them. It was a boom time.

What’s more, the Great Resignation was frontpage news, and every business, including warehouses, were offering signing bonuses to attract new employees. Now, less than two years later, we may or may not be in a global recession, mortgage rates are skyrocketing, and mass layoffs are the news of the day.
Marketers and advertisers must keep up with the speed of the market, and working with their teams, must be in a position to pivot as events in the world change. But generative AI is somewhat stuck in the past, as ChatGPT freely admits:

No one in marketing, product planning, advertising or just about any role should rely on data that was created prior to September 2021. ChatGPT is completely unaware of the changes in the media world that have occurred since its cutoff date. It’s ludicrous to assume it can provide guidance when planning ad campaigns that are relevant today.
To say that generative AI will replace human beings in campaign set up, monitoring, delivering and reporting on campaigns is equally ludicrous. Any strategy and report it delivers will be based on what people said in the past, and not on current conditions! That’s not to say generative AI will play no role in advertising. ChatGPT can help the ad creative side come up with three or four alternatives to ad copy, for instance. It can help copywriters distill a 75-word description to a 50-word one (although if you try this, expect to do a lot of editing).
The problem with the hype we hear about generative AI is that we’re expecting it to do what it hasn’t been designed to do. It can generate incremental improvements in ideas that already exist, to be sure. The giant leaps that represent true innovation or a truly novel idea, however, are still the domain of humans. We still need humans to create the germ of the idea, whether it’s identifying an audience to target, the best messages to engage them, the best places to reach them, and how best to interpret campaign results.
This is why Paragon Digital Services isn’t planning to replace any of our team members with seats of ChatGPT 4. And to be honest, I doubt OpenAI would recommend we so do.
AI Already Drives Much of 
Pundits tell us all the time that AI won’t eliminate work, it will simply change the way we work. We already live this reality within the digital advertising space. Google Search, programmatic, all of the tools we use daily leverage AI to execute campaigns at scale.
AI automates a great deal of analysis and decisioning, but AI still requires a human to supervise it, less it focuses on goals that are outside of the marketer’s objectives. This is why Paragon Digital Services teams still analyze results daily, and tweak targeting criteria and strategy on an as-needed basis to assure campaign KPs are met.
We are grateful that AI can assess millions of campaign impressions in a day, of course — we couldn’t scale digital advertising without it. But we must also be cognizant of the fact that not every decision that AI makes will be the right one for a campaign, and only a human can recognize when that mistake has been made and address it.
As an industry, we succeed with things like programmatic and dynamic creative optimization because we know the opportunities and limitations of AI, and adapt to them. We’ve allowed it to change the way we work for the better, and don’t expect it to do more than it was designed to do. If we want to use generative AI successfully, we must allow it to follow the same trajectory, and stop expecting it to do things it was never designed to do.
David Tyler is president, global sales and partnerships at Paragon Digital, a Dentsu International company

Author:David Tyler

Date:19th June 2023


Next Year All Brands Will Be Required to Migrate to GA4. We Can Help You Get Ready

GA4 is Here!

This past March, Google announced the long-awaited release of Google Analytics 4 (GA4) which promises a better way to measure various kinds of data, enabling businesses to identify unified user journeys across their websites and apps.

Google will begin sunsetting its previous solution, Universal Analytics, which means now is the time to upgrade. Writes Google:

All standard Universal Analytics properties will stop processing new hits on July 1, 2023. Given the new Analytics 360 experience was recently introduced, Universal Analytics 360 properties will receive an additional three months of new hit processing, ending on October 1, 2023.”

Built for the Future

Why the switch? Consumer behavior has outgrown Universal Analytics, which was designed to understand user behavior as they surfed the web via their desktops. Cookies played a big role in their understanding. G4 eschews cookies, relying instead on an “event-based data model to deliver user-centric measurement.”

The other impetus is privacy. According to Google, GA4 is designed with privacy at its core. It offers more granular data collection controls so that you can comply with the privacy regulations of every region in which you operate.

What Can You Do with GA4?

According to Google’s announcement** , GA4 will allow brands to achieve key business objectives, including:

  • “Understand your customers across touchpoints Get a complete view of the customer lifecycle with an event-based measurement model that isn’t fragmented by platform or organized into independent sessions.
  • Measure engagement and conversions with business and compliance needs in mind With new country-level privacy controls, you can manage and minimize the collection of user-level data — like cookies and metadata — while preserving key measurement functionality.
  • Get greater value from your data. Machine learning generates sophisticated predictive insights about user behavior and conversions, creates new audiences of users likely to purchase or churn, and automatically surfaces critical insights to improve your marketing.
  • Easily activate your insights. Expanded integrations with other Google products, like Google Ads, work across your combined web and app data, making it easy to use Analytics insights to optimize your campaigns.”

** Above bullets quote Google’s announcement directly.

Let Paragon Digital Services Manage Your Migration and Beyond

You don’t have a lot of months to plan and manage your migration. Nor do you have a lot of spare time in your day to concentrate on all that migration will entail, now that you’re in the thick of the holiday season.

That’s okay. Paragon Digital Services teams are fully trained on GA4 and are prepared to handle your migration on your behalf. We will:

  • Migrate your data
  • Ensure GA4 is accurately deployed across your customer touchpoints
  • Activate the right data collection controls to ensure you adhere to all regulations in every region you operate
  • Train your staff on how to interpret your incoming data, or
  • Manage GA4 on your behalf post migration

Why turn over ongoing management to a partner like Paragon? We have the time and expertise to dedicate to parsing your GA4 data and analysis so that your teams can act on the insights contained in your data. We get that your teams already have their hands full, and won’t have a lot of time to focus on GA4, so we can do that task on your behalf, delivering reports according to your specifications.

For additional information about GA4 migration and ongoing management, contact Sujith to arrange a 15 or 30-minute call with Paragon Digital’s new client development lead.

Author:David Tyler

Date:1st December 2022


BPO to KPO: Thriving in the Age of Quiet Quitting

These days one can hardly click open any news source without seeing an article about “quiet quitting” — a phenomenon in which workers do the bare minimum of their jobs while they either look for more rewarding work, or save their energy for outside pursuits. Over one-fifth of the American workforce (21%) describe themselves as quiet quitters. The global advertising sector is no exception.

We’re not here to tell people how to behave in an office, of course. But if your job is to ensure that a digital campaign delivers results for your brand or your clients, quiet quitting is a challenge. Campaign execution takes 110% of a trafficker’s energy, whether it’s digital advertising, paid search, or SEO. There are countless placements to monitor, creatives to test and manage, reports to generate, and targeting strategies to assess and optimize.

Whether you’re struggling to find replacements for people who quit during the Great Resignation or are simply asked to do more with less, your basic challenge remains the same: You need domain expertise to succeed.

Outsourcing vs. BPO vs. KPO

Generally, when people think of engaging an outside company to help them manage a workload they give it the generic term: outsourcing. But the concept (and the benefits) are much more nuanced than the term implies, so let’s level set.

Outsourcing is a business agreement in which one company hires another in order to take responsibility for an existing activity performed in-house. In some cases, the agreement requires the client to transfer employees or assets to the outsourcing partner.

Business process outsourcing (BPO) involves the outsourcing of labor and other operational work to a third party to save money. According to Gartner, BPO is typically IT intensive, and is broken into two major buckets:

  1. Horizontal offerings, which Gartner defines as activities that can be “leveraged across specific industries”
  2. Vertical-specific offerings, which are tasks or functions that “demand specific industry vertical process knowledge”

Knowledge process outsourcing (KPO) is when companies outsource relatively high-level tasks that demand specialized knowledge or problem-solving to another company that has specific domain expertise in a particular matter. In other words, it’s the outsourcing of “core, information-related business activities.”

One can easily see a role for outsourcing, BPO and KPO within a brand, marketing tech platform, publisher or media agency, stepping in to take on key functions within the digital advertising end-to-end workflow.

Outsourcing ●       Campaign set up

●       Ensuring all creatives in all formats are ready

●       Testing creatives

●       Taking screenshots of creatives in live campaigns

●       Tag management

●       Generating reports

BPO ●       Managing programmatic platforms

●       Managing dynamic creatives

●       Creative support on provided design guides

●       Optimizing paid search and SEO campaigns

KPO ●       Campaign strategy and execution insights

●       Assessing publishers and channels

●       Publishers and channels relationship support

●       Experience based optimizing of campaigns

Finding the Right Resources

At Paragon Digital Services, we’ve long recognized the value of the talent pool in India. It’s why we have an extensive program to recruit and train people within India, and provide career paths that offer advancement. We provide all employees with extensive training, as well as the opportunity to earn certifications from all leading platform vendors.

Partnering with a company like Paragon Digital Services allows brands and agencies to reduce operational costs and streamline efficiency, while freeing up existing staff to pursue more meaningful work, such as meeting with clients and planning high-level strategy. It is the antidote to quiet quitting.

For additional information on all things Knowledge Process Outsourcing and Business Process Outsourcing, contact Sujith to arrange a 15 or 30-minute call with Paragon Digital’s new client development lead.

Author:David Tyler

Date:29th September 2022


Insourcing versus Outsourcing Ad operations cost comparison and analysis

AdOps is to marketing what plumbing is to homeownership: a task that’s essential to get right, and thus best left to the people who have experience delivering error-free work.

In terms of ad ops, outsourcing to a firm whose sole purpose is managing any or all aspects of campaign management can deliver error-free work save publishers, ad tech platforms, agencies, and brands between 50% – 70% in ad operating department costs.

Let’s break this down.

The Real Cost of In-Housed Ad Trafficker

According to, the average AdOps associate salary in the U.S. is $63,775. That sum is likely to rise given the very real Great Resignation. All over the country brands struggle to fill open positions, and many are resorting to sizable signing bonuses to lure staff to their ranks. And, marketing salaries are on the rise, some have grown by as much as 50%.

Besides, an annual salary is just the starting point, there are a lot of other costs involved with keeping full-time employees on staff. According to the Small Business Administration, “There’s a rule of thumb that the cost is typically 1.25 to 1.4 times the salary, depending on certain variables.”


Where do those extra costs come from? They start with payroll taxes, which are mandatory. A brand’s share of FICA, aka Social Security. That rate is 7.65% of the AdOp team member’s compensation up to the annual wage base, which is $132,900 in 2019.

Next, you’ll need to pay an unemployment tax to the State in which that employee works.

Now let’s talk about bennies, one of the most valuable recruitment tools available to companies when seeking talent. Unless you manage your 401(k) internally, the annual administrative costs per employee range from $750 to $3,000. And, of course, there are your matching fees, meaning your company contributes an amount that matches what the employee puts in until a cap is reached.

Then there’s healthcare. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average 2019 cost of insurance per employee for family coverage was $20,576 with workers on average paying $6,013 towards the cost of their coverage. They may be higher, depending on what you cover (dental and eye care cost more).

Now let’s talk about life insurance, which typically costs $.16 per $1,000 covered.  If like most companies, you offer a coverage amount that equals the employee’s annual salary, you will pay a $3,188 life insurance premium for your internal campaign trafficker.

Once they’re on staff you’ll need to supply them with the tools of the trade: a space to work, a computer, software licenses, communications fees, and other perks you may offer, like Pizza Friday, coffee, and snacks.

Those costs can vary, but for argument’s sake, let’s say you’ll pay for basic office software, which averages about $500 per year. Additionally, you’ll need to spend a week or two training that employee on your internal systems, and it could be a month or two before that employee is operating at full capacity.

There’s another hidden cost that is quite substantial: turnover. Over 30 million people left their jobs from January to August 2021; that’s one out of every four workers. As it is, AdOps is viewed by many employees as an entry-level position, a stepping stone to bigger and better things. And in this day and age, poaching is incessant, so you can expect your newly hired AdOps trafficker to receive competitive offers from headhunters once his or her training is complete and has gained some experience.

So what will it cost to replace a new hire? According to the Society for Human Resource Management, in 2017 the replacement costs for digital media advertising can reach as high as 50% – 60% of the employee’s annual salary. But again, if the Great Resignation continues unabated, you may need to factor in a signing bonus.

Efficiency Gains from Outsourcing

There are also efficiency gains to be had with an outsourcing partner. Take Paragon as an example. Our teams currently support 50 brands, publishers, agencies, and platforms with some or all of their ad operations.  And we have expertise with over 150 technology platforms, tools, and solutions.

Thanks to this deep technical platform expertise and broad client list, we can generate a 20% – 30% efficiency gain when we take over AdOps work from a client.

Intangible Benefits of Outsourcing

Finally, there are numerous intangible benefits to outsourcing, beginning with less distraction that stems from high turnover rates. When an ad trafficker quits, other employees need to step in to do that work until a replacement can be found. That’s a heavy burden.

Equally important, when you free up your employees from the mundane, but highly demanding, campaign trafficking work, you can reassign them to more strategic, and personally satisfying roles that promote client satisfaction, grow revenue and strengthen your partner ecosystem.

Refocusing your employees to the more satisfying work is a virtuous cycle of benefits. Turnover is lower, you can keep that earned knowledge in-house instead of losing it to a competitor, and all the costs of recruiting can be put towards acquiring new customers. Get in touch if you like to know more.

Author:David Tyler

Date:3rd May 2022


The growing importance of CTV

Much has been said about the way COVID-19 drove 10 years of ecommerce growth into just 10 months. But COVID-19 had a significant impact on many aspects of the economy, marketing and advertising included.

Take television advertising. Digital TV viewing shot up, and advertisers strove to meet them there. But rather than make big bets on the annual Upfronts, where marketers purchase huge and costly inventory buys, advertisers turn to programmatic buys of connected TV. The TV landscape will never be the same again.

The pandemic & TV viewing and advertising

Like all trends in digital advertising, the great shift in TV viewing is 100% driven by consumers. They decide when to watch their favorite shows, and on which device to watch them. Gone are the days when people gathered in the family room to watch appointment TV.

That trend went into hyperdrive during the pandemic. With out-of-home options constrained, the 2020 lockdowns prompted consumers to watch a lot more TV. Binge-watching entire seasons of shows became the new national pastime: digital TV viewing minutes shot up by 25% from Q1 to Q2 2020, just as lockdown orders hit..

And, in a very short period of time, the consumers were introduced to a slate of new streaming services: discovery+, Peacock, HBO Max, Paramount+, Apple TV+ and Disney+. Restless consumers added those services to their Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video subscriptions.

Within the ad-tech industry, we differentiate between linear TV, CTV, streaming and advanced TV. To the consumer, however, it’s all just TV.

Consumers weren’t the only ones who embraced CTV during the pandemic. Advertisers, unsure of where to find their viewers, migrated from linear TV to digital. CTV allowed them to test publishers, often smaller and experimental ones, measure the results, and optimize their media plan on a weekly, or even daily basis. That’s game changing.

Digital = performance campaigns

For a long time, TV was seen exclusively as a brand-awareness channel, one that can reach tens of millions of consumers in a very quick time. The challenge is that one was never quite sure if those ads were seen by the right consumers, or if those consumers took actions as a result of seeing an ad. Put another way, two cornerstones of digital advertising — measurement and attribution — were largely unavailable to TV advertisers.

But CTV obliterates those constraints. In addition to removing the pressure of placing big bets at the Upfronts, all the benefits of digital advertising — testing channels, measuring results and optimizing as spend in real time — now apply to the TV channel. And that, says TVSquared CEO Jo Kinsella, makes CTV a performance channel. There’s data to backup Kinsella’s claim: According to research Hulu and Telaria, 82% of DTC shoppers will take action after seeing an ad streamed across CTV

What’s interesting is the way in which CTV democratizes TV advertising. Smaller companies, like growing DTC brands can now get into the game. Rather than invest millions in a campaign as was once required with Broadcast TV, marketers can test the waters with a much smaller budget.

And they can use their tried and true strategies for that testing. For example, eMarketer reports that about 60% of CTV impressions are purchased via programmatic channels. That’s about $2.37 billion.

Challenges of CTV

Connected TV still faces some challenges, however. To begin, it’s a highly fragmented market. Let’s say I’m a shoe brand and I want to target women aged 25 to 45. In the pre-digital world, I’d turn to Nielsen’s who would tell me which shows or properties will allow me to reach my target audience. Today, my target audience may watch those same shows on a computer via a streaming service like Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, via cable and a Smart TV, or from any one of the affiliates that distribute that show. How do I reach them at scale?

Another challenge is measurement. Sure, digital impressions are countable, but every media buyer uses a third-party measurement company to ensure the number of ads they paid for were actually delivered as promised.

Measurement is more difficult, as TV studios rely on service-side ad insertion (SSAI) for ad delivery. SSAI knits ad spots into the content of the show itself in order to thwart ad-blocking software, which works by blocking ad calls to an ad server. If the ad is integrated into the content, there is no ad call. But it also makes it difficult for advertisers to know if their ads were actually displayed, leading to a new kind of walled gardens.

That challenge is being addressed, however. In fact, over the past few years we’ve seen the rise of multiple TV consortiums that bring together all the major players in the ecosystem to tackle the challenges of CTV. After all, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, which is why they’re working together to develop a set of standards for buying inventory, measuring campaigns and calculating attribution.

Paragon’s CTV services

We provide a full range of CTV services to clients to ensure ads are displayed correctly and meet your expectations:

  • Precise QA testing of ad creatives to ensure all campaigns meet technical specs, and perform as they should on devices
  • Campaign setup, including troubleshooting campaign delivery issues and providing recommended edits/changes for peak performance
  • Pacing and performance reporting
  • Quality check AVOD channels to ensure the content quality and ad delivery aligns with your legal guidelines and brand standards
  • Partner integration support
  • Exceptional account management

Get in touch

Connected TV is an exciting new channel for advertisers of all sizes. It combines all the benefits of medium – site, sound and motion – with all of the advances of digital. If you haven’t considered adding TV into your media mix before, now is a good time to start. CTV has lowered the barriers of TV advertising, allowing more brands to reach their audience in this highly engaging channel. Paragon can help you launch successful CTV campaigns. Get in touch.

Author:David Tyler

Date:21st February 2022


Should you in-house or outsource campaign management?

Planning for 2022

Right about now, many organizations are tweaking their 2022 business plans, looking for opportunities to lower costs without sacrificing revenue. In executive suites the world over, leaders are looking for ways to lower costs and reallocate resources in a way that supports revenue facing account management, sales and partnership resourcing requirements.

It’s natural to assume that in-housing your digital ad campaigns is the best way to lower costs, and build expertise among your ranks. The IAB reported last year that 69% of brands have brought some or all of their programmatic campaigns in-house, although not all have in-housed their complete operations.

If your company is a publisher, agency, brand or tech platform, you may be wondering whether outsourcing generates enough cost savings to meaningfully reallocate to account management sales and partnership efforts. The answer depends on your unique circumstances. Here are three factors to consider.

Labor cost

First, organizations need to consider their “recruitment costs”, which in 2021, according to HR associations, costs around $4,000 and takes about 42 days. Once the new hire arrives you’ll need to spend time and money training the employee on your systems. In some instances, training will require certification from a third-party, which means it may take several months before an employee is fully up to speed and contributing.

Ongoing salaries are another factor to consider. Employee salaries, per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, represent 61.7% of an employer’s cost. In addition to salaries, US companies must  pay specific employer taxes for their employees (e.g. Social Security, workers compensations), which, per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, cost an average of $20.50 per hour per employee. On top of that, there are employee benefits, (which, on a $70,000 salary can run more than $17,000. (Source: BeeBole), hardware and software costs, communications costs, office costs, etc.  An employee supporting ad operations work who is paid $70,000 salary actually cost their employer in the $125,000 – $145,000.

There are other soft costs that are harder to calculate. Lost Opportunity Cost comes to mind, that’s the cost to the organization when people who are customer acquisition or existing customer growth facing spend a portion of their time doing routine, repeatable tasks like testing creatives, chasing creatives, setting up a campaign, reviewing campaign results on a daily basis.

Talent shortage in the Great Resignation

The Great Resignation is real, not a figment of your imagination. Beginning in April 2021, 11.5 million American workers quit their jobs. Of those still working, 48% told Gallop that they’re actively looking for other work.

The marketing and advertising sector has not been spared. A survey of 423 marketers and agency employees found that 63% plan to change jobs or careers this year, 40% demand flexible hours, and 100% – every single respondent! – said they would not consider a job that didn’t offer the option to work from home.

Tempting talent to your ranks is getting more expensive. It’s an employee market, and brands across the world find they need to pay more to entice people to work for them.

Retaining talent, especially those with the highest skillsets, is just as challenging There is nothing more upsetting then watching your top talent walk out the door, after all the efforts in recruitment, training, etc.

You can pay steep recruitment costs, and pay to train new hires, provide the latest and greatest employee benefits but there is more than a slim risk that they’ll be open to new opportunities that may arise. Employee poaching is here and on the rise.


Continuity is the final consideration and it’s an urgent one, due to the above mentioned Great Resignation. You can have a stellar employee executing and optimizing your campaigns, but what happens if he or she resigns or retires? Not only will your campaigns be interrupted while you recruit, hire and train a replacement, but you’ll lose the “institutional” knowledge of that employee. As the employee manages campaigns, he or she garners detailed knowledge of which channel works best with which type of product, as well as strategies for getting the best price for media. It can take years to recover that kind of insight.

Outsourcing partners, on the hand, are all about continuity; it’s our raison d’etre, so to speak. We put processes in place to document all knowledge gained with every campaign, so that there are never any interruptions of continuity.

Which option is right for your company? Get in touch and we’ll be happy to discuss with your further.

Author:David Tyler

Date:31st January 2022


A look back on 2021, and a peek into 2022

If we thought 2021 would settle down after a tumultuous 2020, we were wrong. The business world is still reeling, this time from a labor crunch that’s affecting everything from supply chains to restaurant service.

It’s a time of great uncertainty for many companies: each month more than four million US workers resign. Those resigning are mostly mid-career workers, and they take with them the skills that keep a company going on a day-to-day basis. Complicating matters further, 48% of employees surveyed by Gallop say they’re actively looking for another job, putting business continuity at risk.

How are companies pivoting to adapt to these post-pandemic challenges? Paragon Digital Services has a unique perspective on some aspects of labor shortage, as our teams are asked to step in and fill gaps as they arise.

Here our observations gathered over the past year, and what we see in store for 2022.

Outsourcing fills in skill gaps 

Outsourcing various aspects of business operations has been on an upward trajectory for more than a decade, but the pandemic has accelerated the trend.

As workers reevaluate their priorities and assess how to achieve a work-life balance that’s right for them, hiring managers are panicking. It’s not uncommon to see $5,000 sign-on bonuses offered for entry-level positions and warehouse workers. And the fear that once they invest in recruiting, those workers will be lured away by a competitor.

In 2021, companies engaged outsourcing partners as a stop-gap measure, but that fix is increasingly seen as more of a permanent solution, or at least until such time when recruiting costs come down a bit. Those who hope to eventually bring functions back in-house are keen to work with outsourcers who can transfer skills to newly hired employees.

In-housing plans slowing down or put on hold

Prior to the pandemic companies have been bringing various marketing activities in-house, but those efforts have slowed down. In-housing is proving expensive and its rewards are harder and taking longer to realize, prompting many brands to hit the pause button. “Many advertisers are being more selective about how they want to work with agencies and are prioritizing flexibility and capability over scale and stability,” write Kimeko McCoy and Seb Joseph in Digiday.

Many companies are continuing their push towards in-housing, but they want to focus those efforts on the strategic work, and leave the more technical aspects to outside experts like Paragon’s trafficking teams. Some see this approach as a strategy to retain employees who want more interesting work. For others, candidates with the needed technical skills just aren’t available in their areas, so they have no choice but to outsource.

Enabling full-time employees to focus on strategic work is a good way to combat the Great Resignation, as many people have quit in order to pursue jobs that give them a greater sense of fulfillment.

Operations still seen as prime outsourcing candidate

Business process outsourcing (BPO) has been on an upward trajectory for the past 20 years and is showing no signs of clowning down. In 2022, the global BPO market is valued at $232 billion, and will grow by 8.5% each year until 2028.

Advances in SaaS, platform as a service and infrastructure as a service give companies a lot more flexibility to outsource some or all of operations to a partner.

Looking ahead to 2022

So what’s ahead for outsourcing, particularly as it applies to the media industry?

We’re likely to see hybrid models, with companies looking for outsourcing partners willing to take on a portion, but not all, of their workloads. Companies want partners who can augment, not necessarily replace, their internal teams.

Outsourcing engagements will start out small, but will increase as clients see tangible benefits. This is a trend we see currently, and expect it to continue, especially as managers strive to provide more meaningful work for their employees in order to retain them.

If the Great Resignation continues at its current rate, outsourcing will become an important strategy to maintain business continuity. In some cases, outsourcing partners will be asked to perform more niche work.

Rising recruitment costs, higher salaries – along with the scourge of luring trained away from current positions with competitive offers – may lead more companies to seek outsourcing partners as a more permanent solution.

Get in touch today to learn how we can help you transform your ad ops as we head into 2022.

Author:David Tyler

Date:7th December 2021


Why agencies should embrace remote workers

Advertising and media agencies, like companies everywhere, are experiencing a labor crunch. With hundreds of open recs and few candidates to choose from, agencies are facing the prospect of turning down work because they don’t have the staff to do it.

One way to solve the labor crunch is to embrace the concept of remote workers. Not only will it solve the short-term recruitment challenges agencies face right now, but it’s entirely likely that remote work is the future of employment, and those agencies that don’t allow it will find themselves at a competitive disadvantage.

The Great Resignation of 2021

We are living through an extraordinary time, by any measure. The pandemic forced people to work from home and to cancel all social activity. As a result, they had plenty of time to think about big issues, such as what they wanted to get out of life, and how much of their time they wanted to dedicate to work. Many knowledge workers moved out of the city to escape the pandemic, only to discover they liked having more space and appreciated the lower cost of living. Why return to the rat race just to afford expensive housing?

Beginning in April 2021, just as companies were beginning to make plans for their employees to return to the office, the Great Resignation began. Over a three month period, 11.5 million American workers quit their jobs. Of those still working, 48% told Gallop that they’re actively looking for other work.

What are they seeking when they quit? Many say they’re in search of more free time and happiness. The cultural shifts of the past year, combined with economic upheaval caused by lockdowns, have fundamentally changed the way employees want to work.

Remote work is a top priority, and 70% of American workers said they’d happily forgo benefits —  including health insurance paid time off and retirement accounts —  in order to continue working from home.

Today we see a global labor shortage in every sector, from retailing, restaurants and service industries, to ecommerce developers, marketers and agency personnel.

Ad agencies struggle with The Great Resignation

Advertising and media agencies are far from immune to the Great Resignation. Many have hundreds of open positions they can’t fill, and ad professionals continue to leave the industry.

A survey of 423 marketers and agency employees found that 63% plan to change jobs or careers this year, 40% demand flexible hours, and 100% — every single respondent! — said they would not consider a job that didn’t offer the option to work from home.

Their reasons for quitting mirror those of other knowledge workers. Digiday interviewed seven people who left their agency jobs without having another one lined up. A desire for a better life/work balance, and too much work without a sense of satisfaction were some of the reasons given.

Business response

Across the industry, business leaders are responding to employee demands by offering more flexibility. Many are opting to give up big offices that accommodate the entire workforces in favor of multiple satellite offices in areas that are closer to where employees live. The goal is to allow employees to mostly work from home, but to provide a space for weekly or biweekly team meetings.

And full-time work from home is still on the table for many big corporations. In September, The Conference Board released a survey of more than 330 HR executives at large companies, and found that they are 3x more likely to hire remote employees; 36% are willing to hire people who are fully remote and located anywhere in the world.

Will agency executives join their peers in other industries and meet their employees’ demands for flexible work schedules? It certainly would be wise to do so, especially since we urgently need to stem the employee exodus from the space.

Remote work works

Paragon Digital Services can offer insight into the questions on how to run an agency efficiently when workers are remote. As our critical teams are widely dispersed, the single most important factor is having a deep understanding and high priority on processes. When we take on clients, during the onboarding phase, every single process is written down and mapped to KPI, in precise detail, so that each employee knows what is expected of him or her.

Our investments in mapping each business processes have paid off in numerous ways. Ad operations work done remotely by Paragon has lead to efficiency gains ranging from 20% – 30% and accuracy rates (error free work) above 99.9%.

The final reason to support remote work: employees say it’s critical to their quality of life. Companies can stem attrition by enabling their employees to achieve the right work/life balance, and by assigning employees to work that provides them a sense of satisfaction which leads to  opportunities for meaningful growth “within” your organization.

Interested in discussing our offerings further? Get in touch.

Author:David Tyler

Date:12th October 2021


5 things to look for when selecting an outsourcing agency

Is your brand thinking about outsourcing your digital campaigns? Good plan. By selecting the right outsourcing partner you can get access to experts in every aspect of digital campaigns, and give your internal teams more time to focus on other work that is client or revenue focused.

Of course, this begs the question: how do you select the “right” partner? Here are five things to look for when selecting an outsourcing partner.

#1: Industry expertise

Launching, optimizing and reporting on campaigns successfully is no easy feat. There are a million details to take care of, all of which require considerable expertise to do properly. Perfection is required every step of the way, from ensuring that all creatives are formatted correctly to the channel in which they’ll be seen and assessing brand safety of ad placements, to execution across multiple direct and programmatic channels.

You need a partner with significant industry expertise, someone you can learn from, and who can step in to fill in unexpected gaps in your internal teams as they arise.

As a premier digital media services agency, Paragon Digital Services teams offer considerable end-to-end campaign expertise. Our teams are well trained and well versed in every aspect of digital campaigns, including media operations, data analytics, creative and campaign optimization, as well as ancillary business finance services to advertisers, publishers and platforms across the globe.

#2: Methodology for learning and documenting your internal processes

Every brand has a unique combination of internal processes, supported by internal infrastructure, that its employees follow in order to work towards common goals. Processes include campaign requirements, sign-off authority, escalation procedures and so on.

You need a partner that has a methodology for supporting your internal way of doing things, and not the other way around, otherwise, you will spend too much time managing your outsourcing partner, rather than reaping the benefits of time saved.

This is why Paragon Digital Services has designed an onboarding system that begins with the creation of a client-specific Standard Operating Procedures document. This document is a comprehensive roadmap of how our two companies will work together. It covers:

  • How, when and why we communicate
  • Which systems and tools you want us to use
  • Services we’ll provide
  • Your priorities
  • Escalation management plan

#3: Certifications

It’s one thing to be trained in a software or process, it’s a whole other matter to complete rigorous certification. Take ensuring quality management and data security. Your outsourcing partner will touch a lot of your sensitive customer data, don’t you think they should be certified to do so properly?

This is why Paragon is fully ISO 9001:2015 certified. Not only that, after four years of audits and certification, Paragon has built a robust infrastructure around the ISO 9001:2015 principles, and it has become a way of life for our organization. All of our workflows – from the simplest task for a client to fulfilling a role they’ve handed off to us – are executed with these quality principles in mind. If you’d like to learn more about our ISO certifications, and what they mean for you, we’d recommend you check out one of our previous blog posts – ‘What is ISO 90001:2015 / ISO 27001 and why should you care?’.

#4: 24/7 campaign support

Campaigns can’t wait for someone to return from vacation or a conference. You need a well-oiled machine that can design, execute and optimize campaigns based on your schedule.

A good outsourcing partner is one who can meet your campaign deadlines, and manage your ongoing ones 24/7 by seamlessly plugging resources when a team member calls in sick or attends a conference. This is why Paragon prioritizes our Standard Operating Procedures document.

There is always somebody looking after your campaigns.

#5: Full advertising support

If you only plan to do one form of advertising, let’s say paid search, outsourcing to an agency with limited skill sets may work for you. But consumers are multi-channel, and that means your advertising strategy will need to meet them wherever they are in the digital universe.

Paragon can support every component of your campaign, from paid search and paid social, to global display and video programmatic campaigns. The benefit of a one-stop shop is that we can analyze your campaign holistically, and inform you when you’ll get better results by concentrating on one channel over another. Plus, it means you have just one point of contact to work with.

Interested in discussing our offerings further? Get in touch.

Author:David Tyler

Date:5th October 2021


Why Information Security is a critical consideration when selecting your offshore ad operations provider

Media companies, agencies and platform providers need to know whether their ad operations providers have the systems, processes and controls in place to protect their first-party data, campaign results, conversions, strategy, and so much more. This data is strategically vital and can also be a huge liability if handled in a way that violates data protections laid out in GDPR, CCPA.

Outsourced ad operations firms have the ability to help clients avoid risk by hiring trusted third-parties to audit their own work specific to: quality, process and technical infrastructure security. Several years ago, Paragon Digital Services chose the International Organization of Standards (ISO) as its third-party agency to help achieve Quality and Security standards that exceeded all other providers.

Core features of the ISO 27001 Certification include:

  • Risk Assessment Framework
  • Physical & Network Security
  • Data Security & Data Privacy
  • Information Security Awareness
  • Information Security Audits
  • Incident Management & Breach Notification
  • Business Continuity Management
  • Statutory & Legal Requirements.

Minimum Controls

Below is a list of the “minimum security controls” your outsourced ad operations provider must have instituted to ensure your data and your clients data are fully protected. Companies that outsource and companies considering outsourcing should compare the list below with the controls their provider has in place to access internal risk.

  • Information Security Policies
  • Information Security Roles & Responsibilities
  • Mobile Computing Policy
  • Business Information System Policy
  • Human Resources Security Policy
  • Acceptable Use Policy
  • Data Classification and Protection Policy
  • Information Security Awareness
  • Incident Management & Breach Notification
  • Business Continuity Management
  • Risk Assessment Framework
  • IPR Compliance Policy

Data Protection Policy

Below is a snapshot of some of the security practices, measures and controls we follow to guarantee the collective security of our environments and systems.

  • Non-Disclosure Agreements. All services are fully protected by confidentiality agreements, which we take very seriously. NDA’s oblige us to safeguard sensitive information, so you can rest assured we will never use your data other than for intended purposes.
  • Personal Data Protection. Comprehensive data protection protocol ensures your client data are used in strict accordance with your specified instructions. You decide which services Paragon will provide, and which client data we will process on your behalf. Your data will never ever be shared with another Paragon client. In the event of a security incident, structured processes will be invoked to isolate, contain, and manage incidents to conclusion.
  • Human Resources Security. Maintaining adequate security is the responsibility of all Paragon staff. Employees are hired, trained, and disciplined per Paragon corporate policies, which include careful personnel screening, confidentiality agreements, security training, among other measures.
  • Assets. Assets used by our staff, when we work on your behalf are governed, by acceptable use policies and authorized and tracked by Paragon (for instance, employees are not able to access client data via their personal computer).

Information Management

Paragon’s Information Security Policy focuses on protecting the confidentiality, integrity and availability of information, while ensuring data privacy. Components of this policy include:

  • Information Handling. All information, whether in electronic or physical format, is handled according to designated sensitivity and risk classification.
  • Access Control Policy. Several rules, procedures and safeguards are implemented to ensure the complete protection, security, and proper handling of information assets. These rules cover rigorous identification, authorization, authentication, and password policies.
  • Acceptable Use Policy. All employees are required to further protect assets and the information stored on, and accessible from, all devices and communications services under Paragon’s Acceptable Use Policy (AUP).
  • Remote Access Policy. Remote access to internal Paragon systems and information is protected by a layered security model, including the use of firewalls, VPN clients, Paragon managed certificates, and two factor authentication (2FA).
  • Communications Security. Established procedures that cover the operation and management of all IT assets and networks to ensure the correct and secure operation of data processing facilities. These policies cover network security, network design, wireless access, and secure communications channels.

Operations Security

Your ad operations provider must monitor all aspects of operations on a 24/7 basis. Measures include appropriate levels of audit logging and event monitoring to mitigate any security related events.  For instance, our Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) solution to assess significant system events is tuned to provide event correlation across multiple system layers and to proactively alert Paragon IT staff in the event that an unexpected activity is detected.

Additionally, your ad operations provider needs to engage a Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) to monitor events and correlate them with industry intelligence. At Paragon this capability works in conjunction with our internal Cyber Security services to enable 24/7 coverage.  Our Cyber Security Team reviews the threat landscape and manages security tools that protect our infrastructure. Patching procedures are in place to identify, assess, and deploy vendor supported software fixes and across all applicable Paragon technology and platforms.

Finally, your ad operations provider must employs a standard backup policy for all company systems and data, and includes procedures for regularly testing backups for data availability and integrity.

These are just a few of the topics under an Operations Security umbrella. Others include physical security, compliance, business continuity, data encryption, incident reporting and response.

Risk Assessment

Paragon Digital built an inhouse “Risk Assessment Framework” that is in line with ISO 31000 Standards, for each of our clients, based on the following parameters: Network Security, Virtual Private Networks, User Access Restrictions, Multifactor Authentication, Data Classification & Handling of PII Data, Third party Application and Mobile Computing Policy.

If your firm’s decision process would be enhanced with a data driven measurement of risks associated with the change to outsourcing, Paragon Digital would be happy to provide access to our internal Assessment Framework (at no costs) that you can use to forecast and mitigate Risk.

Need more information?

This post touches on some aspects of Paragon’s robust information security framework, policies and procedures. We are happy to provide you with detailed information upon request.

Contact us here if you would like information on how best to forecast and mitigate risk using Paragon’s internal Risk Assessment Framework.

Author:David Tyler

Date:23rd August 2021