4As: Day One
4As: Jim Stengel

4As: Marc Goldstein

The first speaker in the 4As opening session today (after O. Burtch Drake of the AAAA gave the welcome and opening remarks) was Marc Goldstein, CEO of MindShare North America and AAAA Media Policy Committee Chair.Img00028

Marc noted that it is a critical time in the media business, one that is exciting, complicated, and frustrating - all at once.

The reasons for this are many, not least of which are the following 6 unresolved issues he highlighted at the show:

  1. The ongoing saga of how to best define commercial ratings. We are in dire need of a new ratings system that not only accomodates for new media consumption habits (e.g., time- and place-shifting) but is  also reliable, stable, and scalable. [Agreed]
  2. Industry standards for managing media eBusiness, or the online trading system for buying & selling media inventory. From his perspective, we are still in the dark ages when it comes to business process, but it was announced today that in May the 4As will roll out the eBay-backed Media Marketplace, an electronic exchange for the buying and selling of advertising on national cable TV, and the Arbinet-backed eBiz for Media Registry that will store financial business information from media companies, media buyers and ad agencies. [While change can be scary, I think this is a good thing. We'll never know unless we try...]
  3. A persistent lack of cultural diversity in the ad industry. Goldstein gave a clear call to action to everyone in the room to trumpet the benefits of a career in media to a more diverse audience, and focus on retention as much as on recruitment [I'd add that retention is in overall industry challenge, not just where culturally diverse audiences are concerned.]
  4. Fear of commodity (an undifferentiated product/good traded solely on price vs. quality or service). Radical upstarts like Google, Yahoo!, VisibleWorld, Spotrunner, and eBay are forcing us to change the way we do business. But we need to make sense of these offerings and determine how they fit into our business - they won't make our service irrelevent, just better.[Agreed. I think each has solutions that will appeal to certain types of marketers, and there is still room for agency involvement.]
  5. Increased demand for good content, thanks to advances in distribution channels (think broadband, VOD, iPod, mobile devices...). While this used to be the realm of the creative agency, content is often now within the realm of the media agency, which Goldstein feels is the knowledgeable bridge across the 3 pillars of consumers, analytics, and content distributors, and therefore perfectly positioned to create relevant content. [I'd argue that it should be a collaboration between these groups - among others. Often the most brilliant content idea will come from another discipline entirely, say technology.]
  6. Control, or the ongoing and sensitive issue of unbundling media planning and buying from general agencies: who controls the strategy for the clients? Media experts or ad agency experts? Today, the media plan is as strategic as the creative execution. While he advocates collaboration between the two groups, he does not feel it is critical for them to be housed under one roof (technology permits long-distance collaboration). [I'd actually argue that it is *critical* for media and creative to be joined at the hip, particularly in the digital realm where I focus. I have been fortunate to work at full service agencies for much of my career, so I have witnessed first hand the innovation that is created with these two functions truly collaborate on a solution.]

Overall, Goldstein delivered a polished monologue on issues faced by many people in the [general] media business.  I would have enjoyed a deeper dive into the issues raised in #4 above, and a more robust dialogue around emerging media tactics and challenges, which have not really taken center stage at this event.

More to follow...

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