Bench Media was established in 2012, and since then, the agency has been servicing clients from a range of different industries.
Anthony Fargeot, Bench Media’s director of growth, spoke to Mediaweek about the agency’s development over the years, the benefits of being media agnostic, maintaining a united front amid the pandemic and being an IMAA member.
Bench Media in the early days and its growth
Fargeot joined as one of its founding employees, and the team has grown to 35 staff members based in Australia and overseas.
Fargeot started as an account manager and worked his way up through many roles within the agency. Currently, he is the director of growth, overseeing marketing partnerships, media, and people & culture.
Fargeot recalled the agency’s early days: “The media landscape was different when we started; programmatic was not very well known and had a bit of an esoteric feel surrounding it. People didn’t trust it and didn’t know what to think of it.”
“Doing programmatic on behalf of advertisers was the niche that Bench developed until it became one of the most common ways to buy media because people realise how efficient it can be.
“It has progressed leaps and bounds when it comes to brand safety and measurements,” he said.
Fargeot noted that a good portion of the agency’s funds from running the business was invested back into developing their technology.
“When you think about how complex it is to set up a campaign exactly the way the client wants it, you have so many people involved. You have creative people, the marketing manager, their boss, and the media agency.
“Then within the media agency, you would have the person that sells the campaign, the person setting up the campaign and a lot of stakeholders and a lot of information that can be lost in translation.”
“So, we developed this technology to help us manage the information and the workflows between the different people involved in making a campaign come to life.”
Fargeot said that they noticed another pain point when running a campaign across multiple channels. “There would be media traders that spend more time just putting together excel reports and trying to make data from different systems that don’t talk to each other, talk to each other.”
“The tool we developed puts everything together for the media traders so they can spend more time optimising the campaigns and drawing insights and recommendations to make the campaign as efficient as possible for our clients,” he explained.
Fargeot noted that they also developed a dedicated team to look after their media stack, from their different channels and entities within those channels, to how to buy good quality media, valuable inventory, audience data and measurements for their clients.
“We have a team looking after that to ensure that it’s always broad and that we can buy good inventory; even when it’s a niche, we can do that at scale.”
Bench Media’s strength in being eclectic and media agnostic
Bench prides itself on being media agnostic. Fargeot said: “We’ve bought successfully for almost every vertical, which is one of our strengths. Because we can access many data pockets of audience, we can do it at scale.
“I think being eclectic and able to work with many different advertisers successfully is a wonderful strength.”
“Our technology is also an advantage because it frees up our team from doing the many menial tasks or making mistakes or spending in Excel, not necessarily on the thing that matters or the campaign,” he added.
Keeping a united front during the pandemic
The pandemic was a difficult time for many agencies, but for others – like Bench – the impact was not as brutal.
“I think we rode the pandemic better than a lot of other agencies. Maybe because we’re leaner or we’re working with pretty much every vertical,” he said.
“Because industries have peaks and troughs, we wanted to try smooth, solid revenues and workload during the year. That was why we adopted that strategy, which was good during the pandemic.”
Fargeot noted that the remote work setup was not difficult to adapt to. He said: “We’re always a very flexible company, and we understand when people have obligations and family.
“Even before the pandemic, I just had a little boy, and I was working one day from home because I didn’t have any daycare, and the company was fine with that. Other people were in similar situations, but the pandemic fast-tracked remote work.
Fargeot noted that the agency was diligent in ensuring their team had the right equipment for work and regularly checked in on their well-being.
Fargeot shared that in 2020 the agency pledged to keep the team intact during the difficult period.
“Even if it meant taking a pay cut to keep the team. We didn’t want anyone to go without a job during this period, and we did that successfully,” he said. “Then, when things started to open up, and everybody got used to this new world, we went back to growth.”
The year ahead and benefits of being part of the IMAA
Looking into the new year, Fargeot said the agency is exploring a range of innovations, such as data clean rooms, sustainability in media and other forward-thinking initiatives in the industry.
Bench joined the IMAA in 2021, and Fargeot noted that their account managers have greatly benefitted from its education offering to stay up to date on changes in the industry.
Fargeot also noted networking as an important benefit of the industry body, highlighting, in particular, the recent Digital Deep Dive event at Sydney Sea Life Aquarium.
“Most of our team went there and thought that was just amazing, and they got to mingle with some people and network. It’s something the team is benefitting from the membership,” he added.
Top image: Anthony Fargeot