Moving traditional media forward


Phil Cowdell, CEO of Ford Media Services across WPP’s media agencies (collectively referred to as GroupM), spoke to RBR/TVBR recently for an upcoming OneonOne interview in our SmartMedia Magazine. One of the questions we asked was, "What do traditional media like radio and television need to realize about new media and becoming part of multimedia pitches?"

Excerpts from his answer:

"A lot of agencies and clients still have a digital department and a traditional advertising department, but everything is digital.  Now some of the key things that we’re getting in the digital world-dialogue, interaction, extra types of format, the ability to capture data-leads into much more advanced analytics. And also behavioral triggers by consumer allows us to the start pre-selecting to copy that we ad serve up to the person depending on that their interests are-all of those things are fabulous from a marketer’s point of view because I can start being more relevant to much more defined groups of people and serve up to them tailored messages. Then let the analytics work out right whether they’re right and how do I improve on the fly?  Versus I spend a million dollars making a lovely glossy TV ad which runs for 30-seconds and I’ll have it on for the next two months running at 400 GRPs a month. 

It just is a no contest to say how do you take the issues of flexibility or changing the copy, doing behavioral triggers to define the target and then building off real time analytics that we do online…how do you bring that back into traditional media?  If traditional can’t start embracing those things then they’re going to struggle because the agencies are going to say, "But hang on I can get that on half my media mix.  By you not having it on the other half, then you make it hard for me to make those choices."

I suppose when you only have that type of flexibility and metrics on 1% of the business, the 99% can say, "Hey we’re fine, we’re still the super tanker and we’ll plow along in this direction."  When you start to get segments, categories, target audiences that are maybe 50% of their media mixes, that way you start to say, "Hang on, the other half no longer becomes robust to say, "Hey we’re the old world we can continue doing it our old way." 

Certainly our mentality has been saying we don’t have a digital department and a traditional department, we have one department because, guys, everything is digital.  Then around that the sort of pillars we’re really trying to focus on are, 1) is that everything has to have a degree of interaction.  The old push model of just ramming messages into people’s faces and hoping they’re there…no.  2) Then we need a chance to communicate.  Now interestingly the first model was one where want the consumer exposed to the ad to respond to me as the advertiser.  I’m saying I wouldn’t even do that.  I want the consumer exposed to the ad to talk to their friends.  So how do I facilitate them communicating with somebody else–not necessarily with me–and then eventually to communicate with me?  Then when I know what those people are like by what they have done in the last day, week or month I want to make sure the ad that I put in front of them is more relevant. 

The Ford Focus that we’re launching at the end of the year, there are probably six main motivators for the sort of why buys on that vehicle.  But if I’m in California the sequence of those six will be different from if I’m in Florida.  If I’m an older person looking for a very fuel-efficient and excellent car with great residual, will be different from if I’m a young cool, hip urban metro person wanting in-car entertainment.  Ultimately the goal is to get to the stage well if these are the six motivators, I’ve actually got 36 variations on how I deliver those up to people.  Depending on who they are, I’d deliver them in a different sequence with different emphasis so I could tailor my messages better. 

That’s really where the old broadcast, one-direction medium is going to struggle because they don’t have the feedback loop and they don’t have the flexibility to change the message and they can’t tailor the message down to pre-defined targets. 

So where are we at traditional media-wise at offering the ability to allow you to target 36 different ads to 36 different demos?

Not good but it’s interesting. You get, for example, MTV was in here [last week] saying we’re just offering a service now where we’re going to be able to give you flexibility on copy splits.  "New thing we’re running-marvelous-and by the way we’re doing engagement scores on our content so you can access it from wherever, however."  It’s like that’s great because in the old world the TV guys-if you wanted to do a copy split and even change out in California there was such premium and such a hassle it just didn’t happen.  That will go from being the premium to the cost of entry.