MIAMI – When full-service ad agencies started unbundling their media departments in the 1990’s, the media landscape was a whole lot simpler—as in no digital. This is reflective of why when GroupM unveiled Team Arrow Partners for its client Target about 18 months ago, the announcement declared “Analytics and creativity are no longer opposing forces”

Agency units dedicated to specific clients were also more the norm a couple of decades ago. But it’s probably going to happen more often now given the enormous complexity of what marketing has become, according to Jason Harrison, CEO of Team Arrow Partners.

Target not only runs 1,800 stores but also sells online and has a “publisher-side business where they leverage their vast guest database for the benefit of other advertisers,” Harrison explains in this interview at the recent Beet Retreat Miami 2017. “We needed an agency model to be able to manage across the breadth of everything that Target needed.”

Following a pitch by GroupM global CEO Kelly Clark to Kristi Argyilan, SVP of Media & Guest Engagement at Target, the foundation was laid for Team Arrow Partners. GroupM’s Gain Theory consultancy, of which Harrison was the founding CEO, had worked with Target on measurement and would provide talent to Team Arrow, along with assets from other GroupM entities and an integrated planning team built from scratch.

“And all that came together as one team physically sitting together working for Target,” Harrison says.

One of the more prominent Team Arrow ventures has been to team Target with NBCUniversal, providing the retailer access to the company’s ad inventory using an application programming interface. “We really viewed the NBCU partnership as a way to learn,” says Harrison.

While in the test phase, Team Arrow has been participating in NBCU’s Audience Studio targeting and linear optimization offering and with the media company’s partnership with 4C Insights programmatic TV. “So we’re looking at that to assess whether or not that makes sense as part of the larger video mix for target. What we’re doing is probably a microcosm of what’s going on more broadly in the industry.”

Asked if there will be more such dedicated agencies, Harrison says “You can’t help but probably see that be the case. You’ve got so much happening in corners of the marketing ecosystem where the complexity just continues to accelerate. It’s very difficult for a single agency to be excellent at all those things.”

This video was produced at the Beet Retreat Miami, 2017 presented by Videology along with Alphonso and 605. For more videos from the event, please visit this page.