From commoditisation to consultancy


I read an article the other day about the most over-used buzz words in business which got me thinking about our own industry. ‘Fragmentation’ has been the thing of media wet dreams for the last couple of years now. It’s perhaps one of the most overused and clichéd terms in the media dictionary, up there with ‘multi-screening’, ‘gamification’, and for some perverted reason, the continued use of the term ‘tissue session’. Whenever you’re stuck for a bridging sentence in a presentation, giving the old “with an increasingly fragmenting media landscape” spiel usually works a treat.

However, given the alarming upward trend of three-letter acronyms and adding the suffix “-ation” to every word humanly possible, are we beginning to lose sight of the market need our industry was founded upon? As an industry, I believe we’re not doing enough to effectively interpret these terms for our clients, and explain what they mean in the broader context of their business. Maxus’ newly appointed global chief client officer Neil Stewart recently said in an interview about the media industry: “When I was a client I used to wait to see where media people would sit at a dinner, and sit elsewhere because they were so boring. They used to talk about ratings and savings, when I wanted to hear about was how media translated to my business.”

What many of us in the industry fail to grasp (myself included at times) is that ‘media speak’, together with the reporting and performance tools we use to determine the apparent success or failure of a campaign (especially offline media), doesn’t mean much when it’s not put into the context of the business objectives it was planned against. It’s all well and good if a TV schedule delivered on all its TARP and R&F goals, or if a MOVE report tells us we’re reaching 80% of P 25-54 in Melbourne, but if we cannot cross-check this against what the business results were, we’re merely flying blind. Media KPIs are a means to an end – unfortunately many of us see it as an end in itself which is unsustainable in the new media age.

On the whole, clients are not readily supplying agencies with the data they need to plan and strategise more efficiently, or implement key learnings for future campaigns. However, the blame here does not lay on the client side. As media professionals, it is our duty to persistently source this data and interpret it not only from a media perspective, but also from a business perspective. It’s fine to provide business objectives and results when submitting award entries, but we should be including these metrics in every media recommendation and every post analysis document we present. As an industry, we must begin to view this process as the rule, and not the exception.

If we set this precedent, the flow-on effects are boundless. Moving the industry away from the current media commoditisation model to a business consultancy model will produce instant dividends anywhere from an increased sense of client/agency trust, to re-signing contracts without a pitch. Ultimately, this will then all dovetail into the creation of a new – and lucrative – revenue stream. In an age where ruthless cost efficiency and downsizing is becoming the norm on the other side of the marketing fence, rising above the pack by truly knowing our clients’ business – and integrating ourselves within it – will be the incumbent agency’s trump card, and their competitors’ Achilles Heel.

The good news is that agencies are heading in the right direction. Agency operating systems are now putting business objectives at the heart of every strategic response in order to formulate more integrated media solutions; it’s a start but we certainly have a long way to go. With this ever-evolving beast we call the media industry, I’m positive this will become second nature to us in the next couple of years. Charles Darwin once famously said: “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”

Our watershed moment is coming – it’s time to either adapt to the new rules of engagement, or get left behind.

Mark Tzintzis is an Account Manager at OMD Melbourne

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