iMedia Connection

Earthquake Media's Robert Davidman

Dawn Anfuso

EarthQuake Media is an integrated media solutions company. Robert Davidman was named chairman and chief executive officer of EarthQuake in February 2001. He has more than 10 years of integrated media experience with a strong focus on new business models in the new economy. His areas of expertise include broadcast media, corporate strategy development, and marketing planning and strategy. Davidman has developed and delivered strategies for a wide range of companies including Sunshine Wireless Communications, Broadcast.com, and Yahoo!. He also has one of the largest collections of memorabilia from 'The Simpsons' around.

iMediaConnection: What's your biggest frustration these days?

Davidman: Marketers' lack of true involvement with their agencies. The marketers say they want to do things, but then dump it into the old-world regime. They don't get the point.

iMediaConnection: What's easier this year than last?

Davidman: As we see every year, more people are starting to use interactive media, more so than last year. We've never looked back and said, "That was the year everyone used the Internet and this year no one is using it!"

iMediaConnection: Does that mean the Internet's an easier sell?

Davidman: Yes, it becomes an easier sell as time goes by.

iMediaConnection: What’s one of the most successful branding campaigns your company has executed recently, and what made it successful?

Davidman: A recent branding campaign for 'Da Ali G Show', for HBO. What made it successful was the grassroots element; the viral nature of the campaign. We worked with creative partners to design a 'Who is Ali G?' Web site . Then we targeted rich media and standard media to raise awareness of the British icon, who was unfamiliar here in the United States. So we helped to build that brand for HBO.

iMediaConnection: Can your company point to evidence that suggests online advertising and marketing are contributing positively to branding metrics?

Davidman: Absolutely. Take a look at everything from BMW to American Express, which is using its new short films for branding more than anything else.

Another interesting take on the question is to look at Google -- just the fact that it sells online advertising, and by its own nature has led to its own brand. And the fact that people are using it in popular culture -- like on TV someone will say, "Oh I Googled him" -- shows a positive branding metric.

iMediaConnection: What’s one of the most successful direct response campaigns your company has executed recently, and what made it successful?

Davidman: We've done a lot of successful DR campaigns. One that comes to mind is an integrated direct response campaign for the product 'Math Made Easy.' We did a combination of online, DR radio, DR TV and DR print. What made it successful was consistency in messaging across the various media.

iMediaConnection: Have any of your clients successfully utilized any emerging technologies, such as IM, wireless, iTV, etc.?

Davidman: Yes. HBO did a successful campaign with wireless in conjunction with the marketing of 'Six Feet Under'. We ran an integrated SMS campaign that included banners that enabled people to type in their first names and a friend's cell phone number. The friend then got a text message that said something like, "Robert has sent you your viewing schedule from such and such funeral home," and instructed the person to dial a number, which then delivered a voice message from HBO.

iMediaConnection: Are you working with search and local search for your clients? Why? And how's it going?

Davidman: Yes, we're working with both. Why? Because it's the most relevant thing you can do online -- somebody is actively searching for you. On an acquisition basis, click basis, it's pretty much a lower risk opportunity, putting the risk on the vendors.

iMediaConnection: Are clients using search primarily for direct response or for branding, as well?

Davidman: For both branding and DR. You can quantify response rate much better than with anything else.

iMediaConnection: What are you telling your clients about rich media?

Davidman: We're getting them to use it. We always get them to use it. All of our clients are very familiar with rich media.

iMediaConnection: What can't the Internet do, as much as we wish it could?

Davidman: There are lots of things the Internet can't do. It's can't change my baby's diaper! But seriously, it can't be an instant mass medium, broad reach medium, as much as we would like it to be, just by its nature.

iMediaConnection: How is the agency-seller relationship these days? How could it be better?

Davidman: It's the same as it usually is -- it can always be better. It depends on the seller. There are some who get it and some who don't. We always run into sellers who aren't thinking globally, who are stuck in their own microcosm. The ones who can see the bigger picture are the ones who are going to make it further. People have to realize, it's not always about them.

iMediaConnection: Are you having issues with Terms and Conditions?

Davidman: No, not really.

iMediaConnection: Are you working with your clients' non-interactive agencies? How are you perceived -- as a partner or still as an oddity?

Davidman: In some cases, we are the traditional agency. There are some clients who have traditional shops as well as us. In those cases, we are perceived as a partner.

iMediaConnection: What's the one thing you wish clients would understand?

Davidman: How media works. Some people just don't get it, especially how to integrate across various media.

iMediaConnection: What's the one thing you wish publishers would understand?

Davidman: I wish they would understand that they're not always going to be right for every account. You can't be all things to everyone, but some publishers just don't see it that way.

iMediaConnection: What remains the industry’s biggest stumbling block?

Davidman: As an interactive group, we silo ourselves, yet we ask the traditional side to deregulate, to not silo. There's definitely a division being made between interactive and traditional, yet at the end of the day, media is media. We can't protect our turf. There is no turf.

iMediaConnection: What are you reading these days -- besides iMediaConnection?

Davidman: 'Bringing Down the House,' 'Encyclopedia of Heavy Metal', 'The Master and Margarita.' I just finished 'The Five Temptations of CEO.' In terms of industry pubs: AdAge, AdWeek, MediaWeek, Media Magazine, both the traditional and online versions, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, etc. Also, Blender, ESPN, Sports Illustrated.

iMediaConnection: And finally, tell us something we don't know yet, but that we will this year.

Davidman: We don't know what the Millard Brown media study is going to say as far as media consumption. Hopefully we'll find out that even more and more time is being taken away from traditional media and put toward digital media, which includes video games. Video game usage has skyrocketed in both PC and console forms.