In some ways, day 2 was an extension of day 1 with many more discussions around on-line video advertising and ad targeting. In addition, however, day 2 was much more focused on the agency and advertiser perspective. Panelists spoke about the challenges that agencies face as they transform to thrive in the new world and how brand advertisers are responding to the media fragmentation and the control that consumers now exercise over their media consumption. In my opinion, there were 3 additional over-arching themes discussed today:
The “Momentum” effect
The shift in power between media and creative agencies
The increasing focus on metrics and measurement
Each of these is an umbrella for several several interesting ideas
The “Momentum” Effect. In traditional media, brand advertisers kept control on the story and obtained reach and engagement through mass media. In digital media, especially with young consumers, that model no longer works. Consumers control what media and brands they engage with, and advertisers need to start conversations and then let their consumers continue the dialog. In so doing, consumers often evolve the story (which is challenging for brands) but also often create a tremendous viral effect. An example of this is a recent Adidas campaign on Myspace where the Adidas brand page only got 690,000 page views but the Adidas brand “built momentum: through the 21 M+ exposures it got thorough links that consumers inserted into their Myspace pages or forwarded to their friends. In short, the most successful brands will start conversations and then “build momentum” by leveraging communities of consumers that in effect become brand ambassadors, but without any constraints on hat they can say or do.
Shifts in the power base within agencies are underway. Media agencies are positioning themselves at the center of the ecosystem by owning the communication strategy and the overall metrics/measurement. Media folks would probably argue that media fragmentation coupled with the increasing importance of digital media has resulted in the communications strategy becoming the starting point for the advertising process, and also its most crucial step. Furthermore, they feel that they are best positioned to drive the communications strategy and to manage the overall budget/client engagement because they drive measurement and analytics and can execute against changes in media mix (and over time possibly even the creative) on a day to day basis. As part of this transition, media firms are setting up creative teams in house, merging with their digital arms and in a few cases making technology acquisitions (e.g. WPP’s GroupM bought 24/7). This is a pretty radical change when you consider that just 15 years ago, creative ruled and media folks played second fiddle. The question is what does this mean for the on-line folks ? I think its an opportunity as media firms are more natural partners and we could possibly play a role in accelerating this transition. What do you think ?
Metrics and Measurement. Almost every speaker talked about metrics and measurement. The discussions on this front centered around:
The need for new metrics to track brand engagement on-line. Almost everyone talked about how CTRs were a poor metric for brands, but the lack of anything else meant that it was the de-facto standard and that in many cases, its use was harmful. In addition, most folks talked about the need to be able to provide analogues to GRPs, while only a few admitted that GRPs were not much better than CTRs and the industry required new metrics and models that link advertising to business goals (like market share). In this context, MSFT talked about its new Brand Engagement model (that provides attribution data across digital media types for consumer actions) and there were discussions about several start-ups trying to create measurement models for brand advertisers – Dynamic Logic, Visible Measures, Quantcast and Vizu.
The need for dashboards and reporting tools that integrated data from disparate sources and automated the grunt work that agencies have armies of people doing. At a minimum, agencies/advertisers want to be able to integrate their disparate digital campaigns (including affiliate programs) in a single dashboard with automatic feeds and drill down reporting. Ideally, they would want to integrate traditional media into the same system. Both Google and MSFT expect to offer media dashboards (for advertisers/agencies) that integrate digital media over the next year, but the vision of a single cockpit across media types is a long way away.
To summarize, while it was a smaller regional version of OMMA NY, the Hollywood event brought together all the key stakeholders in the digital ecosystem – creatives, media types, advertisers, publishers, ad technology vendors, digital studios, MSFT and GOOG. The notable exception was YHOO, but then, they probably have bigger fish to fry!