Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Media Agency Paranoia

The following is based on actual events – although the names of the players involved will not be mentioned.

A package goods company wanted to find out what the average view duration was for the commercials it was running online.

Their assumption was that time spent with the commercial would reveal some measure of ad performance and/or quality. This was not to second-guess the efforts of the media agency. Rather, it was to evaluate the ad’s performance – in other words, the marketer was looking at using “time-spent” as a creative quality check.

Not a media quality check.

To do this, the client needed the ad ID’s and titles of five or six commercials that recently ran online.

You would think would be a simple request to fill, wouldn’t you?

The result? All hell broke loose. A confidential email sent to one person at the media agency was forwarded to dozens on the media agency side.

Rather than fulfilling the request, the stonewalling began. The excuses went from it’s too difficult to get that information (not true), to that information isn’t of any importance (since when is it the media agency’s place to say a request from the client is unimportant?).

Finally, the media agency said they could get the information but it would only make sense to do so as part of a larger research project. In other words, information that others can get in five minutes, would take this media agency three to six months.

The truth is, it’s not that the media agency doesn’t have the data. And, it’s not that they couldn’t deliver it to this client in five minutes. The reason they were hesitating is that they saw no upside in divulging this data.

In the past, an impression was an impression. Whether an impression lasted for thirty seconds or two seconds was irrelevant. Basically, this was due to the fact that view duration wasn’t measurable.

Now that it is, advertisers have come to realize that all impressions aren’t created equal. Impressions are no longer just about how many, but also about how long. A commercial’s ability to hold an audience is now measurable.

Not surprisingly, since this data is now available, advertisers want access to it.

The media agency’s paranoia lies in the belief that if viewers don’t watch the commercial, this will reflect negatively on their efforts. That’s the hurdle that needs to be overcome.

Media agencies have to realize that they deliver just one of the building blocks that makes up this thing called engagement. Their job is to expose as many relevant people to the message as possible for the dollars allotted.

But once a viewer clicks in to watch the commercial, accountability for length of stay transfers to the creative agency.

Whether media agencies will ever believe this or not is another matter.

Which is why our company is now helping advertisers broker time spent with their commercial messages on digital platforms.

Media agencies broker impressions.

We broker involvement, measured as time spent.

Advertisers shouldn't have to wait six months to get information that is currently available on a 24/7, real time basis.

At least, that's the way we look at it.

How about you?

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