Thursday, June 11, 2009

There Will Be Full Transparency Of Commercial Performance In The Digital World. Oh, Oh.

The last thing I would want to be in the digital world is a marketing director. The reason is the headline above.

And tomorrow brings us one step closer to, as Joe Mandese of MediaPost calls it, D-Day.

For the first time in the history of advertising, marketing directors will have no place to hide and no one to blame. Fingers, my friend, are going to be pointed. And, I’m afraid, unless you move fast; they are going to be pointed at you.

There are three questions you need to answer, and answer quickly, if you’re a marketing director.

1. Now that you can know exactly if your commercials are being viewed or not, do you really want to?

As they say, knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Once you start finding out that viewers only watch say, 10% of your commercial, what are you going to do with that information?

Besides trying to hide it from your boss.

In the past, we never really knew whether the commercials that ran were actually viewed or not. That innocence is quickly being shattered. The problem is that you, as marketing director, approved the commercial. Which makes you directly accountable.

Unless again, you move quickly.

2. How can you best pass the blame?

Don’t try blaming it on your media agency. As much as they will take credit, and expect extra payment, if the viewing data is positive, if it’s negative, well, they’re going to say that they can’t be held responsible for creative. Once people click in to watch, they will say, it’s the responsibility of the creative agency.

Will your creative agency take responsibility?

After the fact, hell no. They’ll claim that there was too much client input during the production of the spot for them to be held accountable for how well it actually worked at involving people.

If you want to hold your agency accountable, then your best bet is to get them to agree to that beforehand.

Which leads to question number three.

3. How Do You Get Your Agency To Agree To Be Held Accountable For Commercial Performance?

It starts by noticing that we didn’t say “sales performance.” We said “commercial performance.” That's very different and something that your agency actually has full control over.

By commercial performance, we simply mean this. Of those that clicked-in to start watching, did they watch a.) All of the commercial, b.) Some of the commercial, or c.) None of the commercial.

Of course, (a) is the answer you want. To make your creative agency accountable for delivering (a) then you need to reward them well for doing so.

In other words, you'll need to make the cost of coming up with the concept and the production of the commercial partially dependent on how long viewers watch the commercial for.

The longer the agency gets viewers to watch, the more the agency makes. Of course, you as marketing director will have to give them more creative leeway. Once you approve the script, back off. Let them do what they do.

After all, the interests of both parties are pretty much aligned now. You both will want viewers to watch more rather than less. When they do, you'll look good to your boss. And, the creative team will look to their CFO.

Can this be done? Certainly. There are a couple of models out there designed to work exactly this way.

Choose the one you like, or, start looking for ways to pass the buck.

Because I'm afraid that full transparency is here to stay.

Which means you run, yes. But hide?

'Fraid not.

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