NNN: Is the Un-front Inevitable?

By News Media Insights Archives
Cover image for  article: NNN: Is the Un-front Inevitable?

With the focus of marketers squarely set on reaching the right customer at the right place at the right time, there is increased demand for integrated advertising strategies implemented in concert with cross-media measurement.  Accordingly, in this fragmented media universe marketers are demanding an unprecedented level of accountability from their partners.

The impact on agencies is obvious with some such as Publicis moving from silos to a more consultative relationship with marketers.  This is a big shift for media agencies which have traditionally been relegated to a less strategic role.  They can no longer be isolated from those ultimately responsible for crafting brand positioning, sales strategies and other “big picture” thinking to drive results.  With billions of dollars allocated to media, oftentimes independent of creative or insight into the competition, tracking the impact (outcomes) of media spend is now paramount.

This notion is not new but it is clearly more sophisticated.  When I led marketing for USA Network our ownership put a halt to any media buying until we had creative that resonated with our target.  We then strategically purchased media that amplified the creative in context as opposed to forcing the creative into media units that we had already acquired. We were held accountable for purchasing media that worked. 

Upfronts, which are underway as we speak, have always been based on scarcity and demand.  It seems to me that with programmatic taking hold, native all the rage and with marketers looking for more from their media buys (including targeted strategies that deliver strong ROI) the Upfront may devolve into the Un-front next year unless cross-media measurement is part of the buying protocol.

This year, A&E Networks opted to meet with marketers and agencies individually to brainstorm customized media opportunities for clients.  According to an Ad Age article Peter Olsen, Executive Vice President National Ad Sales at A&E Networks was quoted saying, “The desire to incorporate more data and audience targeting into ad buys, as well as emerging native advertising opportunities, naturally require more personalized one-on-one conversations.”

Innovating for today is a misnomer.  Once you have completed that innovation the time for it to resonate has likely passed.  Being an expert in your chosen line of business is also not enough.  You can’t sell media -- any media -- unless you understand the interplay of cross-platform media for a specific B2B or B2C target.  With demand for cross-platform, cross-device metrics on the rise, competition to be the primary source for data has never been stronger.  Currently the battle for supremacy is largely between Nielsen and comScore/Rentrak.  However, you have to wonder what metrics Google will hatch within its walled garden and what surprising new players might be formidable (e.g., Moat just received a $50 million vote of confidence last week).  Of course, agencies and networks also intend to add their secret sauce to the calculations, each looking to be the definitive source of meaningful metrics across platforms.

To avoid a future of Un-fronts and ensure the vitality of Upfronts companies need to rethink silos, leadership and partnerships.  Broad, integrated vision, refined targeting and measurement tools are the way to go.

Image at top courtesy of Corbis. The opinions and points of view expressed in this commentary are exclusively the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of MediaVillage/MyersBizNet management or associated bloggers.

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