This article was originally published by MediaPost.

In the last five years, the big holding companies have invested more than $12 billion to acquire and build out their big data management arsenals, according to a just-released report from Forrester Research.

But the big payoff won’t come until the holding companies fully integrate those assets into their creative agencies, Forrester asserts. Only then will the agencies be in a position to significantly move the needle for clients and, as a result, remain relevant themselves.

“It’s time to bring the creative and the machines together, giving CMOs the data-driven execution they desire and agencies the new capabilities they need to maintain relevance,” states the report, entitled “The Agency Data Platforms That Will Power Creativity At Scale.”

The report commends the holding companies for building their data assets. Those assets help brands target audiences with scalable campaigns, bolster CRM capabilities and strike a balance between performance and privacy.

But by and large the data platforms to date “miss the creative mark” per the report. “Despite potent media activation capabilities like identifying, segmenting and engaging audiences in paid channels, agency data platforms have yet to connect to agencies’ creative development process,” the report asserts. And that’s frustrating for client CMOs, it adds.

The report details but doesn’t grade holding company data management efforts to date. But to its main point—creative integration—it does call out Omnicom’s Omni platform as offering “the most creative integration of agency platforms to date.” And it’s the only platform among the holding companies assessed that the report designates as “implementing” creative integration. Other platforms are said to be “forming” or “developing” their creative integration strategies.

And it will behoove all the holding companies to develop and implement such strategies as soon as possible for one important reason: “The next wave of sustainable growth will come when the creative workforce amplifies agencies’ and clients’ tech investments with a powerful creative/machine partnership.”

The report advises clients to work with their agencies to create pilot tests. And it urges CMOs to invite their IT and data science colleagues to their next agency review, “instead of falling for the slick slideware of the pitch.”

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