January 01, 2019
An Interview with Bethany Harris, Executive Vice President, Strategic Partnerships
Bethany Harris joined Active in 2009 and has overseen Active’s business development operations strategies, as well as revenue analytics across the products offered to clients through Active’s trading model. In this role she liaises sales, client services, agency relationships, Active’s various product units and operations. With 18 years of agency and client-side experience prior to joining Active, Harris’ background includes working with brands such as Hasbro, Dairy Queen, W Hotels, Tropicana and SoBe Lifewater. Her agency roles were at Grey Advertising, G-Whiz Youth and Entertainment Marketing and The Arnell Group and on the client side, she was the Consumer Marketing Director at Penguin Publishing.
With 35 years of experience, Active International (activeinternational.com) is a global financial solutions company that drives performance and improves business outcomes for leading brands. A data-driven company, with media as a core competency, Active operates a full-service omnichannel media agency. In addition to media, Active brings to bear a broad portfolio of competencies such as Asset Disposition/Merchandise Sales, Real Estate, Retail Marketing, Travel and Hospitality, Freight & Logistics, and Lighting. Through the application of its core business model, Active is able to create financial benefits to serve its clients. Active International is based in New York and has offices in 15 countries.
Will you discuss your new role leading Agency Partnerships for Active?
I oversee how Active partners with agencies to jointly bring more value to our clients. We also help agencies in other ways by providing services or capabilities that they might not be able to provide themselves. Active also helps agencies understand the marketplace a bit more, as we have a very unique purview given we are inside so many agencies and clients.
How important is it when building relationships with the agencies that Active is seen as a partner and not a replacement for their employees?
It’s critical. I’ve been on the agency side and understand how strange it feels to have someone come in and start executing your buys. I find going into the agencies, explaining how the barter model works and taking them through how it’s particularly going to work for their client is key. Once they see what it can do for their clients, it’s easy for them to get on board and be a part of it. They also understand that they maintain control over the buys.
Agencies often see us as a threat, and we don’t want that – we want them to understand we’re working together. The important thing is for them to provide us with the media specifications they would have presented to their clients without us and for us to meet those specifications while allowing their clients to pay in trade or to find another scenario that will create savings for that client.
The more the agencies see what value we lend to their clients and what more the clients can do, the easier it becomes to work with them. In best cases, they will introduce us to more of their clients.
Active is a metric focused company. In these agency partnerships, how critical is it to track impact and show the value that Active is bringing?
It’s critical, because we usually start off with a test and we need to prove ourselves. It’s nice because Active can always prove its value with a calculator. As this happens, clients work more and more with Active. It works.
That is why we carefully analyze upfront how much value we can create, then as we start working on their business we monitor how closely we can meet or beat that value. We also provide them clear reporting on the value created for each client.
What are your key priorities as you look to the future?
The first focus is managing the clients and making sure they’re seeing meaningful value.
We’re finding that as more agencies work with us, they like us. We perform really well and there is a lot of trust built and they want to work more with us.
We’re growing those agency services going forward based on what the agencies are telling us they need.