"It takes awhile for technique to catch up to technology," comments Expedia and Kayak founder Terry Jones, keynote speaker at last week's Traffic Audit Bureau Conference in Boca Raton. Corporations, Jones suggested, need to be conscious of what he called the Bozone Layer, that prevents good ideas from rising to the top. "You need to create an environment that rewards innovation," he told members of the out-of-home industry.
With last week's announcement of a dramatic overhaul of the organizational infrastructure at Group M agency MindShare, and with growing demands from marketers that both agencies and media sellers dismantle their long-standing infrastructures and remodel to encourage cross-media and digital integration, major industry players are suddenly finding themselves at a competitive disadvantage compared to entrepreneurs who are not saddled with traditional relationships and infrastructures.
At the TAB event, Tim Hanlon, SVP and Director of Ventures for Publicis' Denuo Group, argued that both agencies and media sellers need to move more aggressively to redefine their business models and effectively serve their clients' needs -- with the consumer at the forefront of their consideration. "In all our enthusiasm for digital media and new forms of accountability," Hanlon told JackMyers Media Business Report, "there is a current of thinking that there is overwhelming pummeling of the consumer at every turn [by media and advertising]."
Hanlon suggested that both agencies and media sellers are mired in traditional business models and are not responding quickly enough to emerging business realities and opportunities. "It's unfortunate," he pointed out, "that many advertisers and agencies did not value emerging digital OOH opportunities until CBS and NBC launched the CBS Outernet and NBC Everywhere initiatives. There is a lot of innovation from both traditional and entrepreneurial companies in the out-of-home space and it's a shame many in the industry waited until the big TV networks validated them."
At New York Magazines Day hosted last week by New York Ad Club and the Magazine Publishers of America, Steve Sturm, Toyota Motors N.A. Group VP Americas for Strategic Research & Planning & Corporate Communications said he was "impressed by how magazines are reinventing themselves to help companies market themselves," but he argued magazines must "think beyond the box to stretch ideas beyond the printed page and deliver integrated programs."
A primary reason for the delays in organizational restructuring for enhanced integration, Hanlon inferred, is the failure of agencies and sales organizations to break down the silos that separate the planning and buying of different media forms. He was critical of traditional industry models that force independent packaging of digital media and their traditional media siblings. At Publicis, Hanlon pointed out, those traditional barriers are being broken down, as they are now at MindShare and, added TAB panelist Ryan Laul of Carat's Hyperspace digital OOH division, as they are being broken down at Carat. A challenge for the out-of-home industry is whether new digitally-based companies such as Ideacast, Ripple, Danoo, ProLink, Channel M, Zoom Media and even Gas Station Network are best served targeting traditional outdoor, interactive or television media buyers and planners. The answer lies in all the above, because every client and agency applies different models, budget assignments and requirements.
Digital companies that are not restricted by traditional relationships can more aggressively move beyond the borders historically defined for sales contacts and initiatives, without fear of jeopardizing their established budgets and relationships. Suzanne Alecia, president of Out-of-Home Video Advertising Bureau told JackMyers Media Business Report, "even if the agency structure isn't changing, there is more willingness to come together to hear our story. Agencies are bringing multiple-disciplines to the table and in some cases this is the first time these executives are meeting each other." Alecia advised "OVAB is developing an online planning tool that will offer information from all our member companies, offering a one-stop place to go in the planning stages."
Mobile media is another sector that is advancing the overlap of agency executives from digital and traditional media groups, as well as agency creative teams. "Agencies are realizing the promise of deploying mobile beyond impressions and to move to interaction," commented Michael Collins, president of Kinetic Mobile, a division of Group M. "Ninety-five percent of branded communications take place when a mobile device is in consumers' hands," Collins pointed out at the TAB event. Mobile converts OOH, print, television and radio into interactive media, and moves messaging from passive to interactive. OOH is a tremendous activation point for mobile."
While media sellers throughout the industry's history have focused their attention on media buyers who control negotiations, and agencies have often mandated minimal media access to planners and clients, those barriers and restrictions are falling away as executives on both sides of the table recognize their mutual dependence on relationships, insights, understanding and cross-marketing applications.