Just attended a workshop at AlwaysOn Media NYC on how to manage the online media buy. Quite interesting conclusions, the main of which may be that the distinction between advertisers and publishers is blurring to an extent that changes the way plans are built and companies are organized. A direct implication is that teams in charge of online and teams in charge of traditional media buy should be brought together under one roof, else there is a lot of silo-wars going on.
The panelists were:
- Moderator: John Rose,Director BCG
- Curt Hecht, EVP/Chief Digital Officer, GM Planworks (Starcom)
- Brian Quinn, VP Advertising, Sales & Marketing, Dow Jones Online
- Penry Prince, Director Nort American Sales, Google
Below is a list of interesting comments they made:
- traditionally, when a new media emerges in the advertising space it takes a big chunk of ad spending growth and does not necessarily lead to a shift of budgets. Now things are different because the adoption of the Internet is driving totally different behaviors of the audience;
- it took 10 years to cable TV to get its fair share of advertising and we're talking about simple 30 second spots, i.e. exactly the same format that was used on broadcast TV;
- the rationale of advertising is changing because now it becomes possible to measure more precisely. This is not anymore a world in which all you had to do was throw dollars at advertising in the unverifiable belief that it actually made a difference;
- metrics are a big priority for Google, who works with both marketers and sites to get down to what is actually required in terms of measuring as precisely as possible (per campaign, over time, per product...) each marketing initiative taken online;
- the power of attraction of free content is a necessary ingredient to build an audience, which is one of the reasons why the Dow Jones company bought MarketWatch. Now publishers starts understanding that making people pay for access before providing any content at all is not the way to go;
- Google is investing a lot in educating the market about how online advertising actually work and an enormous amount of work and money is being invested in making sure both advertisers and site owners are walked through the process step by step. In a context of rapid change there is also considerable resistance and one should not overestimate the web's ability to convert traditional behaviors in a short time;
- the web is considerably efficient at assessing transactional dynamics but not necessarily too efficient as regards consideration, reputation, intention to buy... So there is a considerable challenge in providing advertisers and brands with accurate data about campaigns that can fit their existing performance measurement models. In fact, Curt Hecht believes nobody has this figured out yet and if they say so it's likely to be a lot of bull;
- we are starting to see digital experts working on the advertisers' side to help shape strategies and tactics that actually deliver results online and they are a necessary resource;
- some brands like UBS are huge spenders off-line and don't do anything online thinking "we're not quite there yet". This is extremely risky because it attracts customer attention and since most people today check the web before buying, off-line spend only may actually be the best way to generate business for competitors; So digital cannot be out of the marketing planning and media buy equation;
- media will become more accountable because of the existence of online and that is actually going to drive a big growth in the amount of money being spent in new advertising methods [my comment: this is ultimately about driving the risk of ad inefficiency down, so it brings us back to the old risk-return trade-off];
- marketers ought to think of themselves as publishers because their challenge is not merely to get a message out there but to actually engage an audience into the experience that their content exposes a customer to.
Overall some pretty interesting lessons there I believe and certainly a few that will please my friends at Vanksen Group.