Article with the title above, published here, is apparently creating quite a stir in the advertising media community, particularly among the “brand” folks. One of the core points is that all media will become measurable and thus “accountable” in terms of the effect ads placed in the media have. While I’m not sure that’s going to happen in my lifetime, the initial thrust is that online media better get their crap together in the measurement area and define some standards, because the new “Agency of Record” is going to be an analytics shop that measures, in a centralized way, the effectiveness of all advertising a client is running. The unspoken implication here is this agency would essentially have the power to fill or kill any campaign based on performance. Neat idea. Two comments:
1. I was selling cable television ads in the mid 80’s when Nielsen, despite intense pressure from the broadcast networks, started metering cable homes “in the box” (wired into the set top controller). When the first hard numbers came out, they absolutely blew away all the estimates of the cable viewing audience. Turns out a lot of cable viewing was not captured in the paper diaries, and the meters picked it up. Go figure. You mean what people report to you in a survey doesn’t reflect their actual behavior? C’mon, that can’t be true (being sarcastic for those who don’t know me). Anyway, network cable advertising absolutely exploded after this, and all this money fueled better programming. That’s when “Big 3” share really started to tank.
In other words, we have seen this movie before. Money follows accuracy. Instead of resisting this idea, these brand folks ought to embrace it and hang on – it’s going to be a wild ride.
2. The idea of a central agency being the “Master Record Keeper” is an absolute must, since if each agency runs it’s own success metrics, each agency will claim success that really belongs to another agency. You need to have a source of the “one truth”. I have argued this same point many times with companies that have analysts spread out into each of the silos. While it is possible this could work, you would need an iron fist to enforce consistency and remove the tendency of an analyst to paint a better picture of the silo his boss runs.
Just trying to make sure every silo is being honest would take a huge amount of work – why not just centralize it in the first place, and do the work once? If all the analysts report to a CAO who basically is a 3rd party with no axe to grind, then the CEO is going to get the straight picture – including all the cross-silo effects, which is usually where all the ROI is hiding. For example, you are not going to get an analysis that includes the “true cost” of a marketing campaign that causes all kinds of problems in customer service from an analyst in the marketing department, it’s just not going to happen. You need a 3rd party view to get to the Root Cause and start fixing broken processes that affect the customer experience and waste a ton of money. There are very positive benefits to having a group of analysts who each are experts on a single piece of the company under one roof, interacting and discussing business issues. That’s how you get breakthrough thinking, how you fix the broken cross-silo processes that drive customers crazy.
It’s great that we are all becoming more accountable, but let’s get down to the meat of the matter and kick analytics up to the C level and out of the silos. How long will it take before the CEO finds out the silo analysts are “torturing the numbers”? Do you want to be there when it happens? It’s not pretty, let me tell ya. I’ve seen it.
In case this doesn’t make any sense to you, here is an example. How many customers does your company have? Ask 5 people, you will get at least 3 different answers (if you get any answers at all) and they are all probably wrong. The proper answer is “that depends on how you define a customer”. Now, picture each silo with their own set of KPI’s, many based on the “number of customers” in some way and you start to understand what I am talking about.
Like I said, not pretty. A full-on, CEO’s beating forehead vein kind of thing, a “We’ve been telling Wall Street we’re running this company based on analytics and now you tell me that we can’t even agree on how many customers we have?” kind of meltdown.
Maybe you should start thinking about centralizing your analysts now? Or at least talking about it?