Nancy Hill, Marc Goldstein open AAAAs


Yesterday, newly-crowned AAAAs CEO Nancy Hill opened the general session in Orlando with Marc Goldstein, North American CEO, GroupM, and AAAA Media Policy Committee chair. They both commented on the overreaching theme: “Digital changes everything.”

Said Hill: “Consider for a moment our lives before the widespread adoption of and use of handheld media and music players; before cellphones, Treos and Blackberries; before email, internet, search and web video…we consumers have had a dramatic impact on the way the digital technologies have evolved. It is the consumer and the choices we make–the ideas we embrace or reject—that drive the adoption of media technology. So I have another name for this conference: ‘Everything is changing Digital’”—everything from consumer behavior to market forces to the transformation in communication with communities.”

A good example brought forth was YouTube—it was brought up at the conference two years ago. Who had heard of the company? Only 12 or so raised their hands. Now the space has grown so much that 10 billion videos were viewed in December 2007 in the US alone.

She also underscored the fact that agencies are neutral about media—all media. She said the agency seeks to develop advertisers—not newspaper advertisers; radio advertisers; magazine advertisers, etc—but simply advertisers. While noting they were written by former AAAAs president Frederick Gamble in a 1947 speech, the same holds true today—even with so many more choices.

Goldstein agreed—consumer control is key to digital’s role, form and shape now and going forward. “Digital is absolutely changing everything and has been doing so for quite a while. If we view digital as an overarching phrase that covers a multitude of things, it really refers in a technical way to pictures, sound and voice, transmitted in a wired or wireless. What’s fascinating to me is what it means in a more practical standpoint and how it has allowed me to do things I could have never done before…We see now how the consumer has changed what they do and how they do it—control seems to be the operative word.”

He also warned about privacy issues being raised by digital technology—sure it’s great to track the consumers’ every move, but the book “1984” comes to mind for Goldstein—how much is too much? “If we don’t manage consumer privacy, the government may take [our tracking technologies] away from us.”

Lastly, Goldstein spoke about how when all TV stations are transitioned to digital on 2/17/09, it will give each station up to three more signals for more local programming options or whatever they wish. That kind of fragmentation may be good for the local broadcasters.