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 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


The benefits of outsourcing for brands looking to insource their campaigns

While it may seem like a contradiction of terms, brands that are keen to insource their campaigns might want to consider outsourcing as well. Huh, you wonder?

Large brands have been evolving their commercial relationships with the big media holding companies for quite some time. As far back as 2018, the IAB reported that 45% of brands were actively looking to in-house programmatic buying.

More recently, a survey by the World Federation of Advertisers found that 57% of brands have established an in-house agency of some shape or form, and that most of those internal agencies include in-house creative services. Fifty percent have a centralized creative services studio for the corporation.

To be sure, there’s a lot to be gained by in-housing this critical strategic work. Overall costs are lower when you don’t need to pay an agency for every single creative or message you need. More strategically, experimenting with new models, owning the strategy and media buying will make your brand stronger. All of that insight and knowledge is kept within your walls, informing every aspect of your company, from better campaigns and marketing, to product development and customer care initiatives.

And, it’s worth pointing out, your employees who studied communications in school and earned MBAs in marketing are motivated by this type of work, and that means that you, as a brand, benefit from the continuity of a stable team and a deeper level of institutional knowledge.

But what about the ad operations (ad ops) portion of the business? Who among your staff are you going to assign to setting up campaigns, chasing down creatives, managing tags, troubleshooting pixels, creating reports and optimizing performance? It’s not likely the type of work the people you recruited and trained had in mind when they joined your company. You can assign and train your team to do these tasks, but you may find that your recruitment and training costs go up (and campaigns slow down as you try to replace adops personnel who got bored with the position).

Then there is the added challenge of finding people with these skill sets in your area. If you’re a DTC brand in Cincinnati or an established brand in Pittsburgh, you can benefit from a pool of employees who cut their teeth working with or leading the marketing teams of other brands. But finding candidates with tactical adops skills are likely to be few and far between.

Outsourcing ad ops to Paragon Digital Services

For many, the key to in-housing marketing and advertising is finding a reliable company, like Paragon Digital Services, to whom you can outsource the detailed-oriented but critical, business of ad ops.

We all know that for a campaign to truly succeed, ad ops needs to get a thousand different details perfect: site tagging and set-up, testing and optimization, real-time reporting and analytics.

Our teams are detailed oriented, and our internal processes are designed to monitor campaigns 24/7. It’s what we do, day in and day out, and we’re set up to ensure continuity in your technical operations, even in the event that we experience staff turnover. We take on the responsibility of managing your campaign details, ensuring that every team member is up-to-speed on your campaign goals, and managing it to your KPI’s – so your team won’t need to.

By freeing your team from the burden of trafficking and reporting on campaigns, you’ll have a lot more staff to do the work that directly affects your bottom line: interacting with customers, finding ways to grow the business, and thinking about the next big opportunity for your company.

And that’s why I say that the best way to succeed with in-housing is to make outsourcing part of the solution.

Get in touch to discuss how this may work for you.

Author:Rekha Patil

Date:17th August 2021


101: Segmenting your audience

Lots of different consumers may purchase the same product, or favor the same brand, but for vastly different reasons. Knowing those reasons – what motivates shoppers to buy from you (or your competitors) is key to growing both your customer base and revenue.

Segmenting your customers into distinct cohorts – moms who buy organic, budget-conscious consumers, golf enthusiasts, repeat customers, customers of competitor X – is a useful exercise that will deliver many dividends for years to come.

First and foremost, audience segmentation will allow you to craft messages that will resonate with each consumer. For instance, let’s say you’re a coffee brand and you learn that a sizable number of consumers who favor your brand are avid runners. You can use this insight to advertise on runners’ sites and channels, with a message that invites them to enjoy a well-deserved post-workout cup of Joe.

Or, let’s say you’re a mortgage company and you want to attract new customers to apply for refinancing. Your first message may emphasize your low rates, fast answers and streamlined applications. This is the first message in the customer journey, so you don’t want to spend your media budget targeting people with that ad who’ve already visited your site and engaged with your mortgage calculator. Rather, you can create additional segments – consumers who visited our site and used the calculator – to target with the next message in the sequence.

How to segment customers into distinct audiences

Segmenting customers is an art, and is very brand specific. That said, there are some widely used approaches that may be helpful to you. If you use a marketing automation system, it probably offers step-by-step workflows to help you build audience segments that are relevant to your brand. Or, you can ask an agency like Paragon Digital Services to help you do that work.

Here are some common tactics:

  • Enter & exit sites. Look at the sites your visitors come from when they arrive on your site, and where they go once they leave. These enter and exit points can provide valuable insights into their interests outside of your brand, and can help you hone your messaging and decide which channels to advertise in (e.g. runners sites for a coffee brand).
  • Customer surveys. Customers are remarkably open to sharing their interests and motivations with brands they trust. You can ask your customers about their preferences, outside interests, top priorities, and future plans. You can create audience segments based on survey responses, whether that’s age, gender, geolocation, income level, preferred product, values (e.g. sustainability, safety) or interest. What you learn may surprise you. Perhaps you have a cohort loyal to your brand that you didn’t realize before.
  • Analyze buying habits. Your CRM or point-of-sales platform contains rich insights into buying habits, which you can then use to create personas and audience segments for targeting. Let’s say you’re a grocery store chain, you can create audience segments based on what people buy. In other words, what additional products are in the basket of people who always buy seltzer or hand lotion when they come into your store?
  • “We miss you”. Everyone knows that it’s cheaper and easier to reactivate a dormant customer than to earn a new one. Create audience segments of your dormant customers by product, and target them with reminders of how much they love your brand.
  • Spending tier. Create segments based on the lifetime value of your customers. Frugal customers will probably respond to ads that offer cost-effective products, while high-end customers care more about the experience and convenience. You don’t want to send them the same message! With audience segments, you can customize the right message for the right type of customer.
  • Stage in the buying journey. As the mortgage example above illustrates, it’s a wise idea to create segments based on the buying journey. This will allow you to tell a store through a sequence of messages. The key to success with this type of segmenting is the frequency at which you refresh your segments.

Get in touch

Need help creating your audience segments for your campaigns? We’re here to help, get in touch today.

Author:Rekha Patil



How outsourcing delivers significant efficiency gains

Driving efficiency is seen as a major business imperative in every sector of the economy, media and advertising included. As business leaders focus on efficiency, the business process outsourcing (BPO) market has exploded. According to a report by Technavio, outsourcing is expected to grow by USD 76.90 billion, in the next four years. That’s a CAGR growth rate of over 7%. Is there a connection? Absolutely!

Outsourcing drives productivity, both directly and indirectly, by enabling employees to focus on strategic, high-value work, while leaving technical, manual and process-driven work to a team of experts.

At Paragon, we’ve seen this phenomenon playout time and time again. When we partner with a media agency or a brand that has in-housed its media buying, they always remark that Paragon’s ad operations teams are able to deliver more campaigns than their teams were able to achieve. And in general, and we shave 60% off of their ad operations costs.

This is no criticism of their Account Managers, mind you. Unlike them, our teams focus 100% of their time on the minutiae of campaign delivery. That’s our job, it’s all we do. And if you do the same thing all day every day, you’re bound to be at the top of the game.

But that tells only part of the reason. The efficiency gains we deliver stem from our commitment to standardization, and the detailed processes we follow, which are laid out ahead of time in the detailed onboarding process documents we create for customers, as well as our effective error prevention process.

On top of our process-driven approach, we only hire highly experienced people who are certified in the systems used to deliver services. All new hires go through our digital training academy. And we have one of the most effective performance management operations in the industry.

The rigor we apply to our processes are pretty unique in the industry. We recently acquired a client that once used Infosys, a very reputable BPO company located in India. Actually, it’s one of the biggest BPOs in the world. We were able to deliver the same services to the client with 52 people, whereas Infosys required 64. That’s a 20% efficiency gain over somebody doing the same work as us.

The gains we achieve when taking over the ad operations of an agency are even higher.

The other side of efficiency

But the efficiencies we deliver tell just half of the story. A significant portion of the gains you’ll reap as an agency lie with your Account Management and Sales teams. They’ll spend less time chasing down creatives, generating reports, and doing billing reconciliation.

By removing the tasks of trafficking, your team can focus on forward-looking work: finding new business, growing existing accounts, focusing more on creative strategies and discovering new audiences for your clients’ products and services.

Additionally, efficiency gains come from the institutional knowledge your company will keep within its walls. Account Managers are often frustrated with the task of campaign trafficking. It’s stressful, and can be complex, highly manual work, and not what they had in mind when they majored in communications at college. Attrition and recruitment are tough challenges for media agencies.

Here’s where Paragon outsourcing can help. One of our outsourcing clients told me that recruiting has become a lot easier now that she can tell candidates that they won’t be responsible for trafficking campaigns! There are a lot of efficiencies to be gained when an agency can spend less time recruiting and training new employees, and more resources on delivering outstanding services to clients.

Want to discuss how Paragon Digital Services can drive efficiencies in your ad operations? Get in touch.




Author:David Tyler

Date:15th August 2021


Female empowerment at Paragon Digital

Paragon Digital Services is deeply committed to closing the gender gap in employment the best way we know how: training women, and those identifying as women, in a growing field, and giving them the skills they need to build careers that are remunerative, personally rewarding and contribute to their local communities.

A stubborn challenge

According to the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report 2021, the employment gap between men and women remains stubbornly wide. Unless we take active steps to provide women employment opportunities, it will be another 267.6 years before we achieve global parity.

Like you, we find that unacceptable.

Eliminating the gender gap doesn’t just benefit women, it’s good for everybody. Take India, for example, a country where many of Paragon’s technical teams reside. Increasing women’s participation in the workforce by just 10% could add $770 billion to India’s GDP by 2025.

Prior to lockdown in March 2020, India’s overall unemployment rate was 7%, but for women it topped 18%, per a 2019 a Google and Bain & Company report on women entrepreneurship in India. But once the pandemic hit, women in India, like women everywhere, bore the brunt of the unemployment crisis.

Closing the skills gap with the Paragon Digital Academy

The WEF Gender Gap Report states that gender gaps are more likely in sectors that require disruptive technical skills, such as cloud computing, data, AI, and engineering. At Paragon, we also know that it exists in the digital ad tech and mar-tech fields, and we aim to change that.

Paragon’s Digital Academy focuses on the personal and professional growth of our employees, and in turn, our organization, as well as the communities in which our employees live and work.

The Digital Academy provides learning and development opportunities to inspire and upskill our teams in areas that will help them succeed over the course of their lives. For instance, we offer training in technical skills, such as digital campaign management, programmatic advertising and other technical skills.

We also help employees obtain the critical “soft” skills including language, email and telephone etiquette, client communication, US culture sensitivity.

To ensure enough work -life balance, we conduct out our training programs during the office hours.

We educate our staff [men and women] on how important it is to treat our colleagues, and create a safe place to work for everyone.

Certifications to build lifelong careers

We provide women the opportunity to earn numerous certifications, including Google Ad Fundamentals, Google Ads Display and Campaign Manager Basics. We also train women in the full breadth of MS Office and Google Analytics. We also invest time for their individual Development Growth . We are also working on making a “All women team” within Paragon as a special initiative.

These skills are highly transferable to a wide array of occupations. Graduates can go on to hold a wide variety of positions in digital advertising, digital marketing, public relations, and more. And our training is recognized in other businesses. We are proud to help all of our students, women and men alike, build lifelong careers.

The gender gap in employment may be a difficult challenge to overcome, but with a commitment to empowering women, we can make the world a better place for all.

To find out more about the Paragon Digital Academy, or how we can drive efficiencies for your business, get in touch.

Author:Savitha Nair

Date:29th July 2021


Identifying the best roles and tasks to outsource (and why)

Which tasks should you outsource?

A lot of brands, platforms and agencies are wondering how they can drive efficiencies in their operations. The digital landscape is changing as new opportunities (CTV) and challenges (privacy, the death of the cookie) emerge. You need your Account Managers to be on the forefront of these developments, guiding your clients, growing the business, and demonstrating your agency’s leadership.

So what can you take off their plates in order to free up their time? Generally speaking, any work that’s mission critical – and therefore must be done with the utmost attention to detail and accuracy – is better served by a dedicated team that is 100% focused on the task. If you don’t have a dedicated team for that mission critical task, you may want to consider an outsourcing partner that can provide the expertise needed.

Ad ops is the perfect example. As a brand, platform or media agency, campaign setup, execution, ongoing optimization and reporting are certainly mission critical to your business. Too often, the ad ops tasks are assigned to the Account Manager who sold the campaign to the client. But here’s the challenge: ad ops is a function that falters when the trafficker must deal with too many distractions, like preparing for a new client presentation or responding to an RFP.

A dedicated ad ops team is a smart move for your organization, but if building and maintaining one is too costly or time consuming, outsourcing is a terrific option for your Account Managers, agency, and most importantly, your clients.

Account Managers want to focus on high-value work

It’s truly less than ideal to assign ad ops responsibilities to Account Managers. Setting up and managing a campaign is a time-consuming business. There are countless details to manage, and every single one of those details matter a great deal.

A campaign may come in missing a specific creative, say one that caters to a specific geography. Your Account Manager will need to track down that creative, do a pixel test to ensure it will display correctly on every single device on which it will be seen, and then load it into your ad server system.

This is tedious, high pressure work that they might not like doing. And let’s be clear: this work is indeed high pressure because the consequence of a missed detail is a campaign that misses its KPIs. Account Managers would rather do more strategic work, and if they’re not getting a sense of fulfillment, they may look for greener pastures.

Perfect campaign execution demands a process driven approach

You need to assure your clients that their campaigns are delivered as accurately as humanly possible. If not, you risk missing your KPIs, and if you are a media agency, you risk losing business.

Paragon Digital Services has designed a thoroughly processed-driven approach to ad ops, and it’s what we do all day. Our teams are staffed with people who like following processes, all of which are documented in our robust Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) roadmap that we develop for each client as part of our onboarding process.

All details are checked at the start of a campaign, enabling us to identify and resolve gaps or issues upfront. And, even in the event of staff turnover on our side, the machine continues running smoothly as our fully documented processes guide our daily activities.

Why partner with Paragon:

  • We have an unwavering commitment to standardization
  • We have a highly detailed onboarding process
  • Our proprietary error prevention processes guarantee a high degree of accuracy
  • We hire very experienced people who are certified in the systems used to deliver services
  • Our Paragon Digital Academy ensures success, so you can confidently tell your clients their campaigns will be well managed
  • Our performance management infuses every one of our processes.

Want to discuss how Paragon Digital Services can drive efficiencies in your ad operations? Get in touch.

Author:David Tyler

Date:19th July 2021


Ad operations lessons driven by the pandemic

Historically, digital-media platforms and content providers assumed that ad operations resources worked most smoothly when under a single roof, sitting within easy reach of their fellow traffickers and campaign managers. But a novel coronavirus upended that notion, and it’s worth exploring some of the lessons learned from it.

Lockdown orders meant all non-essential employees must work from home. The “non-essential” designation covered all information workers. If you could do your job using a computer, then there was no need to risk a commute and interacting with people outside of your pod.

Suddenly, ad ops teams were dispersed in homes across wide swaths of land. Complicating matters further, this fragmentation of the office coincided with a sustained spike in media traffic, as citizens all over the world checked news sources, blogs and social media continuously for updates on the pandemic. Some teams performed very well, while others faltered. Why? And what did we learn from the experience?

Lesson #1: With the right policies in place, distributed ad ops teams can excel

The pandemic taught the business community that proximity to co-workers isn’t as critical as we once assumed, as long as clear policies for engagement and processes to follow are put in place up. As a global outsourcing partner serving media teams all over the world, distributed Ad Ops is just par for the course.

To make it work, we created a comprehensive Standard Operating Procedures document for each client, which serves as the oil to keep all the cogs rolling in perfect order. Here are the key components that make it successful:

  • How, when and why we communicate with each other and our clients throughout the campaign cycle. When the pandemic hit, we simply updated the “how” to accommodate new contact methods for clients as necessary. Other than that, it was business as usual.
  • Which systems and tools to use. These procedures didn’t change much during the pandemic, so to a large degree, it wasn’t as if the pandemic even mattered (from a campaign lifecycle that is).
  • Services we provide. This part of our document is highly customized to each client, and in some cases we needed to update it to accommodate clients who, suddenly working remotely, needed extra help from our teams. This wasn’t a problem for Paragon for a simple reason: Our teams look to the Standard Operating Procedures as a roadmap to follow 100% of the time. If you instill a habit of “working from the same page”, adapting to change isn’t really a challenge.
  • Establish account priorities. Every client has priority accounts, and every account, regardless of size, has small, medium, large and extra large campaigns for them. We create a priority matrix so every Paragon team member knows our clients’ priorities. Of course, priorities can change during times of crisis – and 2020 was pretty much a sustained crisis! But if you create a system where everyone knows where to look for the most up-to-date list of priorities, it’s not that difficult for everyone to focus on the right campaigns.
  • Detail escalation procedures. Some clients want to know about every nit that arises, while others just want to know about the big stuff. We layout all the escalation procedures ahead of time, so that no team member is left wondering: should we tell someone, and if so, who?

In normal times, our teams work together under one roof. When the pandemic hit, we also had work from home. We are able to deliver a seamless experience for our clients because we create a client-roadmap upfront, which means we really don’t need to sit side-by-side.

Lesson #2: Outsourcing streamlines ad ops

When the pandemic hit and schools closed down, millions of people, mostly women, left the workforce in order to manage their children’s education. Paragon’s campaign teams stepped in as required to help fill in the gaps for clients who suddenly found they had a reduced workforce.

It quickly became apparent to the media teams with whom we work that by leaving the detailed campaign tasks to us, they had the time to focus on the bigger issues facing them (and obviously there were quite a few).

This is one of the most important lessons the industry has learned: Know what you need to focus on, and hand the rest off to a qualified team.

Lesson #3: Accept that what’s normal is ever-changing

Yes, the pandemic forced us to adapt to a new work environment, but that’s not the biggest change on the horizon in our industry. Over the past year digital advertising has faced multiple disruptions, the emergence of digital TV as a major advertising channel, privacy regulations that require us to rethink the customer journey and advertising strategy, to name a few.

Adapting to change isn’t difficult if that behavior is part of your team’s muscle memory. Change is inevitable, and can sometimes feel rather random. Knowing how to adapt – which steps to follow, how to communicate it and where to look for that guidance – is a vital skill in an industry like ours.

Want to learn more about how we can transform your business? Get in Touch.

Author:Rekha Patil

Date:7th July 2021


Equality, equity and what fairness really means

To a great many people, equality and equity mean basically the same thing and use the words interchangeably. But equality and equity are different concepts, the differences are more than semantic. We all want to be treated equally, but in order for that to happen, some of us may need more help, and some of us may need less.

Equality is when you give two people or entities something of equal value. If you’re the president of the university, that may mean giving two departments the exact same budget increase, say $1 million. But what if one of those departments is highly specialized and has only 20 students in it, say, a comparative linguistics, and the other has thousands, such as the university’s medical school. Is that a fair move on the part of the university president? One department, the medical school, will be woefully underfunded, and its students will suffer, whereas the other department won’t even be able to spend all of its budget.

The point is, equality sounds great, but it won’t necessarily mean everyone who is affected by a decision will be on a level playing field. To do that, you need equity.

Equity is when you give everyone the resources needed to be successful, which is very different from giving everyone the same thing.

Let’s say we hire two new employees at Paragon, one who came from another digital agency, and the other who just graduated from college. Treating them with equality would mean they’d each get the same level of new employee training, and then be told to service clients. The new graduate can’t possibly succeed without the critical knowledge needed to understand how campaigns work, how to use the tools needed to complete a task, and so on. That person wouldn’t succeed, they are almost set up for failure.

Fairness requires investing in people, in our case, our employees, so they can succeed in their jobs and find personal fulfilment (which is why we launched the Paragon Digital Academy). To many, fairness is getting the exact same thing, but that only works when we’re all the same to start with.

Paragon services clients across all industry sectors and who are located all over the world. Sometimes a client needs a little bit more help to succeed, and we’re okay with that. Equity is what we strive for.

Americans like to say that we all need to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. But as Naheed Dosani explains, “equality is giving everyone a shoe; equity is giving everyone a shoe that fits.”

To find out more about the Paragon Digital Academy, or how we can drive efficiencies for your business, get in touch.

Author:Savitha Nair

Date:28th June 2021


Google’s privacy announcement and what it means for digital advertisers

On 3rd March this year, Google made quite a splash when it announced plans to chart a new course with the aim of creating “a new privacy-first web.” Why change course when Google itself profited handsomely from the whole consumer-data economy over the past 20 years?

Well, the company read the writing on the wall. Consumers are unhappy with many aspects of the data collection industry, and their displeasure is well past the tipping point to act. An alarming 72% of people say they believe that most of what they do online is tracked by advertisers, technology firms or other companies, and 81% say they’re likely to see more risks than benefits come out of that data snooping.

We knew that Google was getting serious about privacy. Last year the company announced that by 2022, Chrome will stop using third-party cookies. Given that the vast majority of users (about 75%) use Chrome, the move will bring data-driven advertising as we know it to a screeching halt. Ditto for the way much of the world does attribution and measurement.

Of course, Firefox and Apple had already eliminated cookie tracking in their browsers, but they don’t have the same level reach, and therefore the impact, on the market as Google.

Many marketers were counting on Google to come up with an alternative to the cookie. After all, companies all over the world invested in data management platforms (DMPs), third-party data sets, and even DSP licenses to put all this data they collected to good use. But in the March, Google dashed those hopes by announcing it would not, in fact, build an alternate identifier to track individuals, and even if someone did, Google wouldn’t use them in their products. Google products, they said, “will be powered by privacy-preserving APIs which prevent individual tracking while still delivering results for advertisers and publishers.”

Instead of cookies, Google will leverage a federated learning of cohorts (FLoCs) API, an idea the company proposed as part of its Chrome Privacy Sandbox last year. The idea is that an unsupervised machine learning model will group people together based on their interests – aka cohorts – based on their browsing behavior. To preserve privacy, cohorts can be targeted, but not individual users.

Chetna Bindra, also of Google, says that FloCs are nearly as effective as third-party cookie targeting. Citing research conducted by Google’s Ads Teams, she says that advertisers “can expect to see at least 95% of the conversions per dollar spent when compared to cookie-based advertising.

This raises a lot of thorny issues for marketers. Cookies aren’t just used for targeting; marketers use them to measure campaign performance and to evaluate the efficacy of channels, tactics and partners via attribution. If you no longer have that data at your disposal, how do you know where to place your media spend so that you get the most bang for your buck?

Clean rooms

There’s one solution to the measurement and attribution challenge that’s received a lot of attention – clean rooms. Clean rooms are offered by LiveRamp, InfoSum, Snowflake, Habu and many other companies.

Sometimes called “walled gardens,” clean rooms are secure environments in which data is anonymized and processed in some manner for a multitude of purposes, including measurement and attribution.

Let’s say you’re a brand and you ran a two month campaign on the New York Times. Was it successful? As of 2022 you will no longer be able to rely on cookies to track users who saw your ad on the New York Times, visited your site and then converted. But a clean room will allow both you and the New York Times to match users. In this scenario, the New York Times allows the clean room to see the list of its users who saw your ad, and you allow the clean room to see the list of users who converted. The delta allows you to assess the efficacy of the campaign.

Clean rooms are touted as “privacy-first,” because you don’t get to see the New York Time’s data, and the publisher doesn’t get to see yours. Companies like InfoSum refer to this as the non-movement of data.

While clean rooms can be very privacy compliant, GDPR grants consumers some rates as to how their data is processed if you plan to use a clean room for marketing purposes. Let’s say you’re a marketer for a brand that specializes shirts and tops for women and you want to know if it makes sense to enter into a joint marketing arrangement with a brand that sells women’s shoes. A clean room can help you identify whether or not you have a lot of customers in common, and even if those common customers tend to be high spenders. If you see that there is significant overlap, a joint campaign may make a lot of sense.

If you intend to go the next step, however, and send ads for your shirts to shoe-customers of your partner, you may need to obtain consent. GDPR regulates data processing, and guarantees EU citizens the right to be informed of how their data will be used, in a “concise, transparent, intelligible and easily accessible form, using clear and plain language.”

GDPR gives consumers the right to opt out of automated decision making and profiling. In other words, Sally Jonas may not want the clean room algorithms to profile her as a likely candidate for your shirts based on her shoe-buying history.

A new future

We are still very much in the early days of a cookie-free world, but the digital ad-tech sector has been hard at work coming up with solutions to allow brands reach and engage consumers as they go about their digital lives in ways that respect their privacy. I doubt that there will be a single approach going forward, and the right solution will depend very much on the brand’s customers, goals, and a host of other factors.

The right partnership

Working with an offshore ad operations provider that has the resources and knowhow to navigate the cookie-free world makes good business sense. Get in touch today.

Author:David Tyler

Date:26th April 2021