The Agency Review: Carrie Drinkwater, Chief Investment Officer, MediaHub

The Agency Review: Carrie Drinkwater, Chief Investment Officer, MediaHub



What are the biggest challenges facing agencies today? How is the media planning and buying process evolving, and how can sellers help that process along?


To answer these existential questions, we sat down for a series of interviews with agency changemakers. Up now: Carrie Drinkwater, Chief Investment Officer, MediaHub.


In an ideal world, Drinkwater says, the theme of this year’s NewFronts would have been business outcomes. If the last 15 months have proven anything, though, it’s that we don’t live in an ideal world. So instead, she anticipated data, attribution, and flexibility to be the order of the day.


“These are the ‘gluten-free’ terms of the season,” she jokes. Flexibility was crucial during a year-plus when advertisers (and the rest of the world) weren’t sure what the consumer landscape was going to look like. But though the essential rhythm of the video ad business was disrupted in 2020, and plenty of people are pushing for it to stay that way, Drinkwater sees value in this seasonality. “True relationships, partnerships, and value need to be established in a more strategic, Upfront, NewFront timeframe,” she says.


“Certain partners like VIZIO, we’ve had great success with,” she continues. “We know we can rely on them, and we’re continuing to grow those partnerships.”


Those partnerships are increasingly important in this fractured viewing environment, and as ad dollars shift from linear to connected TV and other ad-supported streaming. “The erosion of linear has forced the conversation,” Drinkwater says. Linear supply is down, driving up prices for fewer eyeballs—the central conflict of the current video ad era. Conversations with clients have therefore been moving forward like never before, and MediaHub has seen success in explaining the benefits of CTV and cross-device strategies to clients.  


“It's the democratization of eyeballs, as we say, but it’s also understanding how you can create mass through those individual conversations,” Drinkwater says. Proving out the efficacy of non-linear TV advertising through business outcomes has been their greatest asset in helping form the conversations with clients and partners, which is where measurement and attribution come in.


“At the end of the day, you can't keep building your TV GRPs,” Drinkwater says. “You have to figure out a way to build your audience or to build your reach.” Building that audience requires a marriage of attribution, media mix modeling, and business outcomes. “Your model may say ‘It’s not working,’ but we have to change the model.”



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