In selecting MEC North America CEO Marla Kaplowitz as its new President/CEO, the 100-year old American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As) chose a leader with a proven record of innovation and success in the media agency business. In our exclusive interview, conducted before her new role had been announced, Marla shares her vision for how agencies, marketers and media can evolve toward a collaborative business model while managing growing complexity. Here are a few examples of her comments. Click above to view my full interview with Marla and here for the full Legends & Leaders Video Interview Series.
KAPLOWITZ: We need to continue to be flexible in the way that we work and the way we evolve, in how we manage the complexity [of our business] and still deliver what the client needs.
KAPLOWITZ: Data is such a key priority because it really cuts across everything, from the insights that we need to really do the kind of work and the kind of strategic thinking and the plans that we need to deliver, to the analytics that we need to be performing against. It's about how we understand the performance of what's working and what's not and helping clients understand what's working. These are significant budgets that go into marketing and media, and they need to continue to prove the value of those budgets. So data is key, and then making sure we have the right talent.
KAPLOWITZ: This is really a big challenge for us in this industry, not only making sure that we have talent that is interested in advertising in media and communications, and marketing, but people who are not just interested in coming in and moving on quickly. It's very hard for us to show someone right now that they can have a long career because typically people want to have lots of different experiences. And we also need to focus on how we have more diverse thinking. That's diversity not only of race and ethnicity but also of thought and how you bring the best thinking forward and that's not about having the same kind of people. Watch Marla's full interview here.
KAPLOWITZ: There's been a lot of scrutiny lately as it relates to measurement and the need to have not only third-party validation, but to be able to buy against the third-party verification. It gets back to what is a client trying to deliver? What are their KPIs? It's not just the top of the funnel; it's all the way through and it's not just the direct marketing agency anymore, which really evolved to become the digital agencies.
KAPLOWITZ: It's always going to be about value. What is the price/value relationship of what [media companies] are delivering and what we are actually buying on behalf of our clients? One of the challenges right now is how do we make sure we're getting the right audience? How do we ensure that we're targeting, that they're actually being exposed to the ad and that they're actually not just being exposed to a small portion of it? If we're talking about video, that it's not just a few seconds but it's something that's more engaging? That's incumbent upon the advertiser as well to ensure that the creative is such that it is captivating for that consumer. Watch Marla's full interview here.
KAPLOWITZ: How do you make it a worthwhile experience for the consumer? The media partners can help us in that area. Many of them have been very good about saying here are some areas where we can offer advice to you on what works on the platform, what doesn't. We have to stop assuming that if you create, let's say, a 30-second ad you can just run it everywhere. You need to really understand what is the behavior of that platform or that experience, and make it more native to that overall platform that you're trying to deliver the message in.
KAPLOWITZ: Our clients are facing so many challenges these days with what's happening in the political landscape, consumer shifts, technology, they are very confused; they are confused about how do they really navigate the right future. There is so much data as we talked about earlier, and how you really think about what is the right path to go in. We really need to consider what are our objectives and how do we want to drive that? But we need to really understand what our clients want and we have to try and simplify the complex for them. I think if I was going to say what do clients need, we need to simplify the complex. It is a big challenge. It is not a simple world and it's getting more and more complicated, but I think we need to help translate that for them and get them to understand where their areas of focus should be, and really partner with them on that.
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