Every Friday, The Big Smoke looks at industry news curated by MediaScope. This week, we look at the problems with TV media buys, why CMOs never last, and the end of the creative department.
Many of the biggest TV players have recently created their own data management platforms. The goal is to help advertisers and agencies target their audiences with the same precision they use in digital media buys, utilising actual consumer segments instead of Nielsen’s flatter demographic audience breaks. In many cases, the data is very rich, granular and tied to valuable first-party data, albeit on privacy compliant bases. The problem is there is no unified way to compare the segments, much less the overlap in reach and frequency that might occur from trying to build TV advertising schedules across them. In April, three of TV’s biggest purveyors — Fox, Turner and Viacom — joined together to form OpenAP, a platform that seeks to unify the language used by their audience-targeting systems.
In 2012 a leading retailer began looking for a new chief marketing officer. The job description made the opening sound exciting: The new CMO would play a big, important role, leading the company’s efforts to boost revenues and profits. It seemed like the kind of opportunity any would-be CMO might desire. Sure enough, the company landed a sea¬soned, talented executive from the consumer-¬packaged-goods industry, who came on board determined to make his mark. But a year later the new CMO was feeling deeply frustrated. Given the job description, his experience, and his conversations with the recruiter and the chain’s CEO, he’d assumed he’d have the authority to create a strategy for driving growth. To his surprise, his role was limited mostly to marketing communications, including advertising and social media. He had no responsibility for (and limited influence over) product launches, pricing, and store openings. The problem, he told us, wasn’t that his skills prevented him from meeting the company’s goals; it was that the job was so poorly designed—and there was such a mismatch between the CMO’s authority and the CEO’s expectations—that it would be difficult for anyone to succeed in it.
Last month during Cannes, Publicis Groupe, the third-largest ad holding company in the world, announced it was banning all its agencies from entering award shows in 2018. This was nothing more than a “Look at me!” headline-grabbing stunt that did more internal PR harm than good. (Never mind that ad awards have become pointless and all agencies should follow Publicis’ lead.) Simultaneously, Publicis announced a plan to launch a networkwide AI platform called “Marcel” (named after its founder, Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet). The industry responded with a big “WTF is that?” OK, I’ll tell you exactly what Marcel will be: It will be a tool for “crowdsourcing” creative work. And crowdsourcing creative work leads to creative collaboration, which leads to what we used to call in the halcyon pre-politically correct, pre-internet days, “gangbanging” ideas. And gangbanged creative work leads to diluted, overthought, timid ads. I’ve watched this happen and have been a part of this “ad by committee” process scores of times, and it produced s**t work every single time.
Until recently, Amazon focused on highlighted search results and banner ads. But the company is now emphasising a slew of options such as coupons, embedded buttons that add items to wish lists, offers of standing monthly orders, space on its shipping boxes, and a network that delivers ads to other websites. Amazon doesn’t break out ad sales, but researcher Emarketer estimates they will jump by a third to $1.5 billion this year and reach $2.4 billion by 2019. Google, by contrast, generated more than $79 billion in ad revenue in 2016 and Facebook reported $27 billion. Because customers make purchases directly on its website, Amazon knows not only what they’re searching for, but what they’ve actually bought — giving it a deeper understanding of purchasing habits and a better chance to anticipate what people might buy next. That advantage could be strengthened by the company’s surprise acquisition of Whole Foods. Clients of WPP’s GroupM ad-buying unit, which represents Colgate and Unilever, are spending 10 to 15 times more per month this year on paid Amazon search ads than they did a year ago, says Edward Foster, GroupM’s global head of search. “It’s absolutely exploding” as money shifts from paid searches at Google and Microsoft’s Bing, Foster says.
Some publishers excel in programmatic in ways that make buyers take notice. The best way to stand out in programmatic is by integrating sales teams so it’s easy to buy programmatically and direct with a single conversation. Smart publishers don’t create incentives that make salespeople push direct sales. Programmatic buyers hate it when some types of inventory – often video, custom ad units or content – can only be secured through direct deals. Or when the publisher offers better pricing for a direct deal than a programmatic one. But smart publishers know that programmatic buys can come with premiums because of unique data, which many of the pubs on our list offer to advertisers, whether it’s registration data, weather data or viewing and listening data. And publishers without strong data can compensate with strong data partnerships and excellent customer service. For all the automation that programmatic promises, it still takes a lot of manual fiddling to make complex deals run properly. Buyers with strong programmatic partnerships like to be briefed on a publisher’s strategy, to see if there are ways that upcoming products could help their clients.