Saying and Doing

During a video interview with Havas Global’s Managing Director Jon Waite (soon to be released as an asiCast, watch this space) Jon referenced an event he had been at during which a poll of the audience revealed that 79% were familiar with attention metrics. When members of the audience were asked how many adopted an ‘always on’ approach when it came to using these data the number dropped to 1. Not even 1%, just 1.

Representative or not, the fact remains that a far higher proportion of advertising professionals would rather talk about a topic than put in the hard yards required to put the theory into day-to-day practice to the benefit of their clients.

Whether it’s attention metrics, cross-media measurement, ad fraud, effectiveness measures, using AI in planning, or a whole host of other shiny new items on today’s to-do list, there’s saying and then there’s doing.

You could argue this is a function of time. Early adopters take ideas and run with them; the rest of us take an age to catch-up.

But as befits a blog written by a Cynical Old Git (hence COG Blog) I take an altogether more cynical view.

A well-known media consultant once described the media buying and selling business as being rather like a well-appointed casino.

There are the beautiful people to lure you in, and their counterparts serving you drinks and food as you play.

Then there are the guys setting the odds and making the money. They typically keep out-of-sight but everyone working there knows they’re there, calling the shots.

This all may sound a bit melodramatic, but it does explain some of mysteries within this industry.

If you were a Naïve Old Bastard (the NOB Blog?) you would be forgiven for believing that the leaders of the media agency industry should be speaking out individually or via our trade body in favour of behaviours designed to build trust and strengthen the agency business.

High on the agenda would be driving any practices that damage clients’ belief in advertising as an effective driver of business success (like ad fraud) from the industry.

Are they speaking up? No, they’re not.

It seems they are happier promoting the latest, largely incomprehensible systems designed by and for online media platforms to their bemused clients.

It would be incorrect to assume that what agencies say in pitches about serving their clients’ interests above all things is true.

 The incomparable Bob Hoffman, in his latest newsletter ‘Review the Rot’ is in no doubt.

Bob believes that the actions of our industry-leading media agency leaders and their online friends is less about client benefits and more about:

  • “Enabl(ing) hundreds of billions of dollars of theft
  • (Delivering) years of imaginary marketing outcomes
  • (Producing) a tidal wave of media misinformation, disinformation, lies, defamation, hatred and stupidity
  • (Causing) enormous harm to responsible journalism”

Bob makes the point that a small business, Adalytics, “essentially led by one guy named Krzysztof Franaszek, has done more to bring to light the true nature of online advertising than all the holding companies, all the media agencies, all the trade associations and the entire marketing trade press community combined.”

I would add a shout-out to Dr Augustine Fou and his business, Fou Analytics who has done more to first uncover, then understand and finally show how best to minimise ad fraud than the huge suppliers hired by the holding companies.

And now two of these huge suppliers (IAS and Double Verify) are seeking to add genuine innovation and measurement respectability (via two of the largest attention measurers, Lumen and TVision) to what has been to date a distinctly underwhelming fraud detection offering.

Putting all these manoeuvrings and machinations to one side, underneath it all this is a pretty simple business.

Our job is to create and place commercial messages that build business success for our clients.

If we do that well and can demonstrate that we’ve done so then we deserve to be fairly paid for it.

Clients have a right to expect the agencies they hire to work in their best interests, including using the latest tools and techniques to help them do the job better. They are right to expect us not just to say, but to do.

I’ve been accused of being out of my time, of being idealistic, of representing a long-ago and long-past age, and of course that’s true on one level.

But on another level, it’s not.

Our industry was in a far better place when we cared about our clients, and let our own wealth and success look after itself.

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  1. Pingback: Nick Manning: How Forbesgate highlights the clear need for disruption in the world of Advertising 3.0 | Innovation and Excellence.

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