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WANTED: Media Concierge, Part 1

Dawn Anfuso
WANTED: Media Concierge, Part 1 Dawn Anfuso

Joe Uva is President and CEO of OMD, one of the largest and most innovative media communications specialists in the world. OMD had the distinction of winning more honors at the 51st International Advertising Festival than any of its competitors, taking home the Grand Prix and three Media Lions.

OMD U.S. was formed in 2002 through the media consolidation of three of the most creatively awarded advertising agencies: BBDO, DDB and TBWA. OMD’s powerhouse domestic network delivers unmatched creativity and media innovation to Cingular, Bank of New York, Visa, FedEx, Georgia Natural Gas, PepsiCo, Wrigley, Chicago Tribune, Dell, Hormel, LensCrafters, JCPenney, Sterling Jewelers, Hershey and Hertz.

Uva presented the keynote address at the iMedia Brand Summit in Coconut Point on February 8th. Here's the first third of that speech:

Joe Uva: Good morning. And thanks for having me here today. For those of you in the back of the room, please no heckling. Don’t say “please stand up.” I am standing. This is as tall as I get. And believe it or not, this is casual for me; ask Sean Finnegan, he can tell you.

Actually I’m delighted to be here today and have an opportunity to talk to you all. There are just a couple of things I want to share with you before I start the speech. First and foremost, you’re going to be looking at the top of my head quite a bit because I need to read my notes. Unfortunately I couldn’t memorize everything that goes along with the slides. So I’m not being rude. I’m trying to be informative and hopefully I’ll talk loud enough so you’ll hear me in the back of the room. And what I’d like to do is really have you focus on … there are a number of slides in this presentation. There are probably three that I really hope you pay attention to because they kind of capture the essence of this topic and really crystallize this whole concept of how we, as marketers and consumers, are going to deal in this ever changing environment. 

And I’ve got to ask over there, which of these buttons changes the slides? The top one. Let’s see if it works. Oh, how ‘bout that? Okay.

How many people in this room have heard of a guy named Isaac Richards? Anybody? How many people in this room have heard of something called “Myth TV”? Okay, well Isaac Richards is a guy who got really frustrated with his cable operator and he started to develop a software program that turned his PC into the ultimate digital set top box, complete with TiVo capabilities and web search capabilities. And he has made this software available for free to people. So you have a lot of people out there right now who are using their PCs as a digital set top box. I bring that up just to set a little bit of context because everything we talk about here does not contemplate that world. When you add that layer of complexity and innovation on top of this, things start to get really interesting. 

As you saw on that first slide, and as you all know, we live in an increasingly complex media world. As a consumer, and as a media executive, I am absolutely enthralled with this world. And I’m constantly challenged on how we’re going to manage it, not only what I do with it in my house, but how do I help my clients to understand it and capitalize on it?

One thing I know is that I need help; you need help; all the consumers need help when it comes to this world. Well, in thinking about this I came up with a notion of what I’ll call the media concierge. And the media concierge is the way to manage this ever-changing media environment. It’s what I’d like to spend the next few minutes talking to you about. But before we look into the future, let’s take a look at where we are right now.

The theme of this conference, today the consumer is control -- no surprise. And they’re going to be in more control as time goes on.

They’re empowered to decide where and when they can be marketed to. And they use their remote controls, their TiVos, their Blackberries, their cell phones, customized webpages, Video on Demand and satellite services to help them manage their day, manage their time and consume electronic and digital media today. Now these devices really help the consumer get back their most valuable commodity, which is time. They’re already adept editors. I mean think about it. Every one of us, we get up in the morning, whether it’s through a clock radio, an alarm on our cell phone, whatever, and we are bombarded with messages from the time we wake up until the time we go to bed. And we have become incredible censors. We know what to filter out. We know when to filter it out. We know when we’re receptive for a certain message in a certain environment. All of these skills that we’ve acquired and developed in the cognitive processes that we go through are now being amplified and giving the consumer more control through these devices.

So, coming soon to a living room near you -- the media concierge. And with it will be another major shift in consumer control.

So what does a media concierge do exactly? Well, we put out a want ad and I included a job description in it. For those of you who didn’t get a chance to read it in the brochure for the Summit, let me just take a minute and tell you what my view of what a media concierge does. First, it’s an on-the-premises concierge that oversees media entering and leaving my home. It must be able to multi-task. Its primary responsibilities include: recommending and selecting media for consumption; scheduling appointments and devices for consumption; must be able to handle specific requests I make; it must locate and record information of value to me while allowing me to avoid information or content which I have no interest in; it must assist me in making transactions with third parties; and it must act as a janitor or custodian for my files. It also must allow my behavior and habits to be measured by others while protecting my privacy. We put the call out in December and by January 5th at the Consumer Electronics Show the marketplace responded in force.

First DIRECTV stepped up and applied for the job with what they call “The Home Media Center,” which enables you to move content from your DVR to other devices, and [provides] services that will get deployed, again, to help consumers manage their time more effectively. But there are other candidates who weighed in quickly with their own credentials. There’s a team of Microsoft and HP [editor's note: for more on this partnership visit here] that provides software to allow media to be networked across multiple devices like the TV, the PC, the PDA and your cell phone. Samsung is building television sets that are able to use advanced services from Time Warner Cable and Charter, that don’t require the use of a separate set top box. Currently those sets don’t work on other cable systems, such as Comcast. Digio is offering a set top box with video recording capability and other features that they would distribute through the cable operator, very similar to TiVo’s relationship with DIRECTV. And SBC is trying to bypass the cable companies altogether by offering video service through their high-speed DSL connections. And of course, Microsoft has to be in the game twice, so they applied for the job by themselves this time. They’re creating software for use in cable boxes that’s under test in Comcast systems as we speak. They’re supporting internet television offerings by SBC and Bell South. And they’re announcing a deal to make MTV music videos available to users of Windows PC, Media Center PCs. 

But who’ll win the prize and who’ll get the job as our concierge? Frankly I don’t know. Size, price, ease of use will surely play key roles in that determination. The PC and TV manufacturers will fight over the new territory. And no doubt the gaming consoles are also going to try to get in on the act. News Corporation and Sony, and other consumer electronic companies, will fight tooth and nail to put their solutions into the mix as well.

At OMD we hypothesize that a new model will emerge, one that features subsidized or free hardware to help drive growth and penetration. Rupert Murdock did this very successfully in the UK with Sky Interactive. And today there is an extremely high penetration and adoption rate of interactive television in the UK. We don’t see why that model can’t and won’t be deployed here over the near-term future.

But more important than who gets the nod and gets the approval and wins the game is what will the impact be on our lives? How is this media concierge going to fit into our lives? Well, as more and more devices and functionality converge, the more the end user will control the intake of content, and once and for all, we will all truly be what we call “Masters of the Universe.”

And this will change the media landscape once again. If you look at the landscape we have today, you can see there’s an awful lot of stuff being produced, packaged, distributed on a variety of devices that we have in our home, that are available to us in a mobile situation. And when you get to the PDA and cell phone they can go anywhere; and there's media consumed at the office as well.

But this new environment and the emergence of these home media networks and centers will put the media concierge right in the middle of it all.

It’ll truly change the dynamics of how media is accessed, creating new forces for media consumptions. Massive increases in choice and flexibility will mean that consumers aren’t going to passively interact with our messaging anymore. They’ll need to seek it out and pull it. No longer will the interruptive model of communications be relevant, and finally we’ll see the rise of the engagement model we’ve all talked about for so long. Blurred boundaries -- it’s an idea that in a digital world the media are less distinct. In some markets around the world, more people are getting their digital radio via their TV and PC than they are through radio.

And finally, consumers will get more involved in making their own media -- blogging, texting, webcams, picture editing are all examples of empowering consumers to make their own content, and that’ll remain a major theme for the next few years. Add this all together and it becomes clear why one of our concierge’s duties will be that of a custodian, because it’s going to be necessary to clean these files up and archive the material because we will all have vast multimedia libraries.

Monday: What awaits us as marketers and how are we all going to work and sell in this new environment?

Joe Uva is President and CEO of OMD, one of the largest and most innovative media communications specialists in the world. OMD had the distinction of winning more honors at the 51st International Advertising Festival than any of its competitors, taking home the Grand Prix and three Media Lions.

OMD U.S. was formed in 2002 through the media consolidation of three of the most creatively awarded advertising agencies: BBDO, DDB and TBWA. OMD's powerhouse domestic network delivers unmatched creativity and media innovation to Cingular, Bank of New York, Visa, FedEx, Georgia Natural Gas, PepsiCo, Wrigley, Chicago Tribune, Dell, Hormel, LensCrafters, JCPenney, Sterling Jewelers, Hershey and Hertz.

Uva presented the keynote address at the iMedia Brand Summit in Coconut Point on February 8th. Read the first third of that speech here. Today: What awaits marketers and how to work and sell in this new environment.

Joe Uva: The next step will be the fully networked home. You know, people have talked about the smart house for a long time. Interactivity will move past the PC, past the TV and now it'll be in coffee makers, cars, washing machines. Portable screens and wireless networking will give a secure information network within our homes. When this happens, we as consumers may start to see responsibility to the home network. Evidence suggests that basic household functions will be first. Now anybody here who has seen that God awful remake of "The Stepford Wives" knows exactly what I mean.

The Network Robot Vacuum Cleaner is already with us. Soon we may start allowing our homes to make certain purchasing decisions for us, act as our procurement agent if you will, finding the best price on a given set of regular purchases: milk, orange juice -- and then maybe even deciding on the product itself against some preset criteria that we as consumers plug in, with respect to brand preference. In the future world it's the home network that becomes our consumer, think about that. I mean our target audience could be machines -- scary thought.

Now if that's what awaits us as consumers, what awaits us as marketers? How are we all going to work and sell in this new environment? And that, quite frankly, is the question of the day.

As I said, as marketers and consumers we need help. We need help knowing what to say, when to say it, where to say it and of course, we need help in knowing "is it working?" Digital media are rapidly growing increasingly central to the consumer's lifestyle. As time spent continues to increase with these new digital offerings, and on these new devices, mass consumer marketing will ultimately be replaced by relationship marketing, as digital media enables efficient psychographic, behavioral, geographical and day part targeting. It helps establish effective, one-to-one dialogue and permission marketing will rule the day. And it also will present new and better opportunities for testing and establish great accountability. Everybody is talking about how mass media and mass marketing has died. What has happened is it has been a world of mass segmentation. This, truly, moves us to a place where it's one-to-one engagement marketing.

And broadband is the big news across online and mobile platforms today. With increased bandwidth, value gets created for marketers and consumers. You get richer creative. You get more branded entertainment. You get new gaming options. And you get personalized marketing opportunities resulting from it all.

Now, the media concierge is going to create a new value chain. If you look at today's value chain, really the distributor has become the key force in understanding the relationship with the consumer, whether that's your cable system operator, your satellite or your broadband supplier.

Tomorrow the new value chain will actually put the media concierge as the gateway to the customer. In this world there's an opportunity for the providers of consumer technologies to leverage their privileged position in the home. That media concierge isn't just going to help us manage our time better; it's really going to help us edit our content and filter it against the set of criteria that we set for it. This is going to make advertising that much more difficult in this different environment. At the same time, it should also present new opportunities for us.

In this world the traditional media owner as deliverer of audiences becomes more and more relevant. So we need to seek out and align our brands with those contenders we spoke of just a few minutes ago.

Creativity is still a business. And I think this quote, particularly the underlined portion -- I hope you can all see it in the back of the room -- from Bob Wright, really makes this point very clearly. In essence what it says is the value chain is going to rely on making smart business decisions in the world of creativity and content. It's going to require huge upfront investments. And marketers can help and influence content creators in this area. It's inevitable. Bob's point here is that the television business and the plastics business is very similar: you have to have a process to deal with it, but at the same time, if you're not making huge upfront investments, you're not getting the opportunity to know what's going to be a hit product or a hit piece of content.

Now in this world there are three challenges, which are also three opportunities. First, how do we take advantage of media relationships that the media content, the media platform has developed with us as consumers? And how do we use those to leverage and improve brand relationships with the consumers?

The second challenge and opportunity is in the area of creative messaging. What are the considerations that are going to go into talking to consumers in this new environment? 

And third and most importantly is accountability. There will be new opportunities to measure much more effectively what the impact and effectiveness are of marketing campaigns against those consumers we so desperately need to keep. 

So let's take them one at a time, and let's talk about media relationships first. We're going to need to use media relationships to create new associations between our brands and consumers. We need to use those relationships to reinforce consumer perceptions of brands based on their interaction and perception with the media. And we can use those relationships, if we're smart about it, to change attitudes and behaviors to more positively dispose those consumers toward our brands to competitive advantage.

Choosing the right media partner means examining them on the basis of fit, equity and relationship. Fit means simply matching the brand's personality and message to the personality and message of the media chosen. Equity means choosing brands that have, and will maintain, the strongest equity for you. You want to ensure your brand is able to tap into, and benefit from, the relationship that the consumer has developed with your media partner.

Let's just take a look at a few examples that happen to be OMD clients, but … and how we've deployed them in the way we think about them in this new environment today.

First of all we look for shared values. When you think about State Farm, an insurance company, and what they represent to consumers, and than what CNN represents as a media brand, there's a shared value of trust. Even in a world where there are many competitors to CNN today that didn't exist as recently as eight or 10 years ago, CNN is still a very trusted source for news and information, and State Farm is a natural fit. There is benefit for State Farm being associated with CNN, not just on television, but online and in any other platform as well. You can say the same thing for VISA in the show "The Apprentice." They're about success and achievement. Pepsi in "One Tree Hill" on the WB Network, they focus on youth and optimism and looking ahead. And Ask Jeeves and Google are all about searching and finding answers.

The second challenge for us is creative messaging, and this is where we really need to have a level of collaboration unlike anything we've ever had in the past, between marketer, media and agency, to make sure we are meeting and fulfilling the needs of the consumer who sits at the center of it all. If we get this wrong, we may not get a second chance. We need to ensure that when we're talking to these people we have absolutely understood every aspect of their lives as it relates to the way that they're going to consume media in this new environment, and how they're managing their time; and again, this whole concept of consumer as editor and sensor.

I'm happy to say that more and more we see the role of the media agency coming to the forefront here through the area of communication planning. It's no longer enough to rely on the creative advertising agency to set the course for when and where your message gets delivered. In this new world it's about communication planning experts and this role will be more critical than ever before.

For those of you who are familiar with the advertising agency model, a couple of decades ago a concept emerged and a function came out of that concept, called account planning. And the role of the account planners was to gain understanding of consumers and their relationship with brands to help set the stage and form the foundation and pillars of creative strategy. That's only half the equation. The other half of that equation is deploying those same skill sets to understand the relationship that consumers have with media platforms and the brands that ride on those platforms. So, what we've started to see are media agencies -- and I'm happy to say OMD was the first one to do this -- hiring traditional account planners to help understand those relationships. By bringing together that knowledge with the knowledge of the traditional account planner, we really hit the sweet spot when it comes to understanding and building those relationships with consumers, again, to provide our clients and customers with competitive advantage.

Together, we must redefine what we think of as a typical consumer message. The next generation of advertising will need better communication; you will need to find your target in new places and reach them, and involve them, in new and different ways.

We must ask ourselves: What if? Now I know somewhere back there Keith Simmons is listening to the cash register ring. Keith is with ePrize. So what if commercials were gains? What if commercials gave prizes? What if commercials gave you rewards? By offering rewards for viewing, listening, reading and interacting, we think we can create a new model of engaging the consumer, because in a world of clutter, and a world where time management is the most precious commodity we all have, we're going to need new ways to “incent” the consumer to engage and interact with those messages we're trying to deliver to them.

We're going to need to go inside and around the content like never before. I envision a future with ever more product placement and integration -- God forbid, right? I envision a future where there will be sponsored content modules. For instance, a free Disney movie brought to you by and branded as the McDonald's Family Theater, offered to you on VOD. I envision a world where -- we talk about the TiVo environment, and other environments, fast forwarding through commercials -- we'll actually create a new messaging opportunity in very short form, to reinforce brand values and attributes so that we aren't missing the opportunity to use that time to talk to the consumer. And most importantly, I envision a world where ads will truly establish a dialogue and allow consumers to have true two-way communications with marketers.

Tomorrow: Examples of who's leading the way.

Joe Uva is President and CEO of OMD, one of the largest and most innovative media communications specialists in the world. OMD had the distinction of winning more honors at the 51st International Advertising Festival than any of its competitors, taking home the Grand Prix and three Media Lions.

OMD U.S. was formed in 2002 through the media consolidation of three of the most creatively awarded advertising agencies: BBDO, DDB and TBWA. OMD's powerhouse domestic network delivers unmatched creativity and media innovation to Cingular, Bank of New York, Visa, FedEx, Georgia Natural Gas, PepsiCo, Wrigley, Chicago Tribune, Dell, Hormel, LensCrafters, JCPenney, Sterling Jewelers, Hershey and Hertz.

Uva presented the keynote address at the iMedia Brand Summit in Coconut Point on February 8th. Read the first third of that speech here. In the second third, read about what awaits marketers and how to work and sell in this new environment. Today: examples of who's leading the way.

Joe Uva: Now the digital revolution that continues and the media concierge won't only require more creative messaging solutions, it'll enable us to gather more data and know what works and what doesn't. But how is that going to happen? The media concierge's management of interactive TV is a good example to look at. 

Enhanced television, or broadband, via cable modem, allows access to additional layers of information and truly personalizes the television and broadband experience by allowing this interaction. Viewers might be able to participate in more multiplayer games, in trivia shows. As a consumer you may be watching a show, you may see an item, a device that somebody is using, a product, a service, a car, a piece of apparel that an actor is wearing and you may be able to roll your cursor over that, click on it, and it'll take you to a place where it can tell you how and where to acquire it. And interactive television and broadband are also going to allow advertisers a way to communicate directly to those who are interested in finding out more about their product, how it affects their lives, where they can acquire it.

So, there are some advertisers out there today who are already hoping on the bandwagon and are leading the way in interactivity by using it to enable consumers to learn more about their goods and services in generating qualified leads. But everybody in this room knows better than most, it's really only the tip of the iceberg, and from here on out it's where life starts to get more interesting for us all.

The concept of the media concierge arms consumers and empowers them like never before. They choose which messages to accept. They decide when and where you are allowed to speak to them. They'll tell you what they want to know, when they want to know it, and how they want to know it. The media concierge is going to allow consumers to set new criteria and then tell you if you got it right when you talk to them.

I believe that consumers will actually welcome marketers into their lives in this new environment, provided two things: there is value to what you provide to them in information and in the goods and services you offer; and that, they don't mind you to monitor their behavior, but you've got to protect their privacy and there's got to be some controls over it. How we use that data to our advantage is really going to be the key to all of our successes. This is the new world order and the media concierge is going to sit front and center in it.

So who's doing it right today? Well, there's two examples from the physical world today that I believe can help shed some light and give us a path in this new world we're talking about. Target Stores and McDonald's have done an exceptional job of mastering the way of segmenting their customers and aggregating audience just in the current media space that we all live and play in today. And they've been rewarded over the past couple of years with tremendous business success. Because they've been able to do this, it's really a refinement of mass marketing into relevant consumer segments that they can now focus on and use the media that's available today, to help shape those relationships. They're the first advertisers that I can think of, in addition to the Dells of the world and some of the successful direct marketers, who have absolutely figured out how to talk to which group of consumers on which media platforms, and have successfully leveraged those media platforms to enhance their business results.
Translating this kind of innovative thinking to the new digital world order will be the challenge that lies ahead of us. It's a challenge I welcome and look forward to as the world continues to change for us in the years ahead.

Thank you. And now I'd like to open the floor up for any questions.

Andrew Susman: What do you see as the top two or three ideas today, to get more creative?

Uva: Specific ones that have been done or things that should be looked at?

Susman: [Inaudible]

Uva: Well, I think, right now, there's a big opportunity to stress using broadband as a true learning tool for branding. I think clients should get much more aggressive in this area. I think that you need to exploit those users who have adopted it and really it's become a fundamental part of their media consumption. I think we don't know enough about it today. I don't think we should just be taking it for granted that we're going to repurpose video commercial messaging from television and put it on in a broadband internet environment. I think there's an opportunity to do things more uniquely.

At the same time I think people should be exploring more of the TiVo platform. I don't say that because I'm on the Board of Directors of TiVo, but I say that because I really believe there are some unique opportunities embedded in that DVR and VOD world that advertisers need to get more aggressive with. And I think that is the low-hanging fruit. And I think if clients can get their heads around and develop the intestinal fortitude to take just a little bit of calculated risk, the upside and the reward will be tremendous because it will help them understand how consumers are navigating this new digital environment, and how they're managing those platforms for consumption.

Audience Member: How do you feel about the up front as it relates to the broadband?

Uva: I don't understand why anybody, in their right mind, would want to take a model that's been broke for 50 years and impose it in this medium. First of all, when you think about the model, it was developed at a time when there were three networks, with very limited commercial inventory, and it made sense to lock those precious units in, in positions and programs that were the most desirable and most relevant for you as a client. Today in the world that we live in, it's not only irrelevant for broadband; it's probably irrelevant for television as well.

Audience Member: [Asks a question about structure planning in regard to DVRs].

Uva: Well, first of all, I really don't think any of this -- what we talk about here today, and even TiVo -- I don't think any of that is a threat. I really look at it as a big opportunity for marketers. I think it's going to really result in a renaissance in creativity at the agencies. One of the things that I can tell you -- and I know there's quite a few clients here -- that myself and others have been evangelizing for awhile, is it's incumbent upon all of you who are on the new media side, and associated with new technologies and new platforms, not only to talk to us at the media agencies, but also go talk to the creative directors at the advertising agencies. Get in to see them. It's not the account managers who are going to make those decisions on how exploited these new platforms get and when they get exploited. It's the guys who drive the creative process. You'd be surprised when you sit down and talk to some of the creatives that they're fascinated when you tell them there are 15 things they can do in a broadband world, or online, or in VOD, or on a DVR that they can't do in an analog world. It really acts as a catalyst to get them to thinking about new creative messaging and new ways to address it. And while many of them are not technophiles or early adapters, they are definitely interested in trying to do new work. And you see that much more with the younger generation of creatives.

I had a conversation with somebody who is a creative director -- not at one of the Omnicom agencies, but happens to work as a creative director on an account that OMD does media with. And we were having the discussion and he was telling me that he can't get his young stars to work on traditional television commercials anymore. They don't want it. It's not about the reel. They're more committed to and more interested in and more focused on working in this environment and being able to exploit it -- because that's their media consumption. That's the world they live in. They're consuming this stuff. They're the ones who are the adapters to all this new technology, early adopters and have adapted it into their lives as a primary source of media consumption.

Rebecca Weeks: Thank you so much, Joe.

Uva: Thanks Rebecca.


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