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Lessons for media companies and agencies from Advertising Week

At the first session I attended, Matt Scheckner, executive director of Advertising Week, said that he has frequently been asked what the theme of the week is. His answer is “There is no theme”. Advertising Week’s purpose is to bring together brands, agencies, media companies and technology providers to discuss all things possible under the advertising umbrella. And it did just that. With so many sessions spread across various venues around Times Square, it was a schmorgesborg for anyone in the industry.

Following on from last Friday’s post, what are the key takeaways from Advertising Week for media companies and agencies?

1. It’s the idea, stupid.

Everything is king these days in the media world (content, engagement, data, and so on and so on). But ideas will always stay king. “I think what always feels incredibly absent from these discussions is the creative idea” Eric Hirshberg, chief executive of Activision, said at a panel discussion. “The thing that hasn’t changed and I think is more important than ever is the power of great creative craftsmanship and disruptive ideas”. Media channels will be in flux but ideas can be lasting.

2. Re-bundle to make it easier for clients.

In a November 2012 paper on unbundling, Harvard Business School professor Alvin Silk describes unbundling as a disaggregation of services such as copywriting and media placement by moving away from the advertising industry’s traditional one-stop-shop model. Tony Pace, chief marketing officer of Subway Franchisee Advertising Fund Trust, spoke at Advertising Week on how this change in structure has resulted in less efficiency. “The thing that I miss being an old media guy is that the media teams now aren’t as full aware of all the assets we have….Because of the way unbundling has happened, it makes it a lot hard to get the synergies we’d all like across platforms”, Pace said.

3. Companies are just as confused as media companies.

During a panel session of chief marketing officers, Amie Deutch, associate publisher at Fast Company, raised the point that often times media companies are unsure of who is in charge of approving integrated programs on the client’s side. Deutch spoke for many other publishers when she asked, “Who is ultimately responsible for pulling the trigger?…The agency has to sell it through and nobody seems to want to take responsibility”. The answer is that the client is responsible and different departments within a company need to work together, which we all know is not always easy.

4. Creativity is the problem now, not technology.

While discussing untapping the potential of advertising in mobile publications, Jose Andrade, technology director for Publicis Life Brands: Medicus, concluded that technology is no longer the issue; it’s creativity. He asserted that there are great tools out there that can be leveraged to create engaging ads for mobile publications, but marketers, media companies and agencies need to be creative and sell that to their stakeholders.

5. Invest in R&D (this applies to brands and media).

The advertising industry overall invests very little in R&D, and let’s face it, most of us don’t even think we need the research. R&D? Sure, that’s something big pharma does. And it’s something that brands, media and agencies should be doing. Nigel Morris, chief executive of Aegis Media Americas & EMEA said, “Being able to measure outcomes will drive part of the shift to the reallocation of ad dollars”.