Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Is Crispin The First To Figure It Out?

We were watching with great interest to see which ad agency would be the first to figure out what advertising's next financial model would be.

We figured the race was between BBDO, Goodby, Crispin, Wieden and TBWA. All extremely creative shops, all confident in their ability. One would certainly take the lead and show the way.

Today's news that Crispin has inked a deal with TiVo to receive second-by-second commercial viewing behavior data seems to make them the winner.

Up to now, it’s been only the media buying companies – Starcom and Interpublic Group – who have inked deals with TiVo to receive the second-by-second data. These companies were using the data to help their clients with their media buys – studying viewer retention rates during breaks, as well as the other general behavior of viewers.

Crispin, on the other hand, appears to be the first ad agency to undergo the MindChange necessary to grasp the fact that second-by-second data is a measurement of how well the creative is working, not how well the media is working.

Media is accountable for bringing viewers to the commercial. But once viewers click-in, the creative is accountable for keeping them there.

By discovering how well their commercials work at involving viewers, Crispin will be in the driver’s seat once advertisers realize that this second-by-second data can be monetized in a way that allows them to hold their ad agencies accountable.

How would a creative accountability model work?

Let’s say Crispin creates a two-minute commercial. The data comes back showing that viewers lost interest after the first ten seconds. That two-minute spot will be worth much less to the advertiser than one in which the viewers were involved for a minute and fifty-five seconds.

Who’s accountable for creating this involvement?

Well, that would be Crispin, wouldn’t it?

Now what if Crispin based part of their fee for creating the commercial on what the spot proves to be worth in the marketplace? In other words, they'd agree to be paid part of their fee after the fact.

The longer viewers watch, the more Crispin makes. The less involving the spot, the less they make.

Advertisers would be on board because a model of this sort allows them to hold their agencies directly and financially accountable for their creative efforts. And we know how much advertisers crave accountability.

Agencies, on the other hand, would see at it as a way for good work to be worth more than bad work. Suffice it to say this would eliminate many agencies from being fans of the model

It takes a confident shop, a talented shop, to directly base part of their fee on their creative ability.

Crispin qualifies. As do the four other shops mentioned earlier.

The interesting thing is that once these agencies start agreeing to base part of their creative fee on viewer time spent, the advertising industry will very quickly divide between those who will and those who won't.

There will be no more hiding. Or, offering of excuses. After all, the worth of a commercial will finally be determined by an objective observer.

The viewer.

(Besides TiVo, second-by-second commercial data can now be measured in over 35M homes offline and in over 59M homes online. Monetization models do exist that allow good work – involving work — to be worth more than bad work. What the industry has been waiting for is a leader, an agency confident enough to bet on their creative ability. It now appears as if it might be Crispin from the agency side. We’ll have to wait and see who steps up from the advertisers' side.)

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