He identified THE critical concern of the electorate. All other issues be damned. If Carville were to evaluate the war of marketing relevancy in the digital age, I believe he'd say "It's the eyeballs, stupid".
I mentioned yesterday, Tom Dunlap, EP at RSA, was kind enough to ask if I'd be interested in speaking on an informal panel hosted by the Association of National Advertiser (ANA). The panel was chaired by two production consultants and included Tom, myself and Jason Harris the President of Mekanism. The topic was clients going direct to production companies for creative and executional services.
The meeting was an intimate gathering of brand executives with the emphasis on procurement. These are the people who make sure the clients are getting the biggest bang for their buck. As you can imagine a very popular topic these days.
The panel took place in a small room. There was a series of tables shaped in a horseshoe. In the middle of this formation were three chairs. Those were for reserved for Tom, Jason and yours truly. On first impression it felt like an inquisition but as the conversation began it became apparent it wasn't a grilling but rather an exchange.
The first topic raised was about the role of the advertising agency followed up by what did we offer that was different, better, and cheaper. As I mentioned yesterday, all three of us were relatively aligned in the view that the traditional broadcast commercial model involving clients, agencies and vendors still works. It needs modification but it's effective. The most disgruntled of the clients questioned not so much the agency contribution but the monetary value of their service. This was for them to determine not us. We were here to solely represent our companies and our competitors as another marketing partner they can call upon outside of traditional agencies. Eventually we addressed the major problem of the day, the ongoing quest to reach the ever allusive consumer and maximize brand marketing dollars. This is reason to go direct.
In short, the three of us on the panel were consistent in the core reason to work directly through a company like Mekanism, RSA or Dandelion. Projects that call for communicating across multiple platforms are better suited to small nimble organization that can concept, design, strategize, produce, edit and seed without layers of internal approval. No turf battles. Most importantly we hold ourselves accountable to attract audiences through entertaining content.
The clients seemed to be grasping this concept. As the conversation turned toward the per project direct to client model, it became apparent their were some concerns, notably the cultural shift. Whatever issues they have with agencies, it's one stop shopping. Clients don't have to source out people to perform specific functions. This is more work for the brands and more responsibility. The agencies are no longer the keeper of the brand. They are. They are responsible to interact and connect to the consumer in a genuine way. This can't be achieved soley through buying time on "Grey's Anatomy" and the NFL. Paid media is a valuable in supporting the genuine connection but it's in the digital space where the relationship is made and maintained. This is where the new models are filling the void.
At the end of the panel, a client turned to us and said, "Would you be willing to base your fee structure on results?"
My answer was it depends on how we determine success. If it's to move more product, that I can't do. Too many factors that I have no control over. If it's to get consumers to be engaged interactively with your brand, that's something i'd consider. We'd need creative control to deliver quality entertainment. Most importantly, we'd need control the seeding and marketing. Give me that ability and i'll take the bet everyday of the week.
As everyone is racing toward the same finish line, monetizing digital content, we must provide the one thing the client values the most...eyeballs. It may be agencies or production companies or some hybrid. Whoever does this effectively and consistently will rule the day.