October 18, 2007
New York City, New York
December 2-5, 2007
La Quinta, California
May 20-23, 2007  |  Austin, Texas
Published: May 22, 2007
Doug Weaver Drops Oreo Bomb: RFP Doomed

iMedia's senior analyst advises Summit attendees to determine the direction their business will take, adopt a clear vision and plan proactively.

Doug Weaver, president of Upstream Group, and a recent addition to the iMedia team as a senior analyst, dropped something of a bombshell for an audience already focused on the dire "collaborate or die" warning that brought them to Austin, Texas for the Agency Summit.

Doug is the President of Upstream Group and a pioneer in the field of online advertising. Over the past five years he's worked with over 60 leading companies, including Yahoo!, AOL Time Warner, USA TODAY, CBS MarketWatch, ESPN Internet Group, The Microsoft Network, CBS Sportsline, Terra Lycos and DoubleClick. Read full bio.


"The world will soon split into two pieces," Weaver explained in his keynote speech, "And you won't be able to work both sides of the fence. You will have to choose if you want to survive and prosper."

Using the metaphor of an Oreo cookie, Weaver detailed his thoughts on the shifting media world, explaining that while the snack can be easily broken into two cookie wafers, only one side usually gets the cream.

The Oreo Doctrine
According to Weaver, there will soon be two distinct sides to the industry, a theory he has coined "The Oreo Doctrine." On one side, there will be the transaction players, which are firms dedicated to the business of buying and selling standardized media advertising units. The other side of the industry will form what Weaver called marketecture, a term that refers to firms that apply varied media and communication elements in a focused solution for a concrete business problem or a time-specific market opportunity.

While many in the crowd might have been tempted to be all things to all parties by trying to capture both sides of the cookie, Weaver had one simple piece of advice: "Don't try it."

"There is no right answer, but the wrong answer is certainly both," he said. "The thing to do right now is to have a discussion about what kind of firm you're going to be."

Transactional players are characterized by their ability to standardize and make profitable buys, Weaver said.

"This is a part of the industry that will be outsourced more and more to machines," he said. "If you're a transaction business, you need to deliver that buy at the greatest possible level of efficiency and automation."

To do that, Weaver explained that the transactional player needs to eschew creative virtues and embrace math and science, locking up technology, patents and talent skilled at quantitative-based solutions.

For the marketecture firm, which Weaver likened to a film producer or general contractor, who has no permanent contractual relationships with talent or clients, the core business model will revolve around problem solving for clients.

"While transaction firms will interact at the line-level with their clients, marketecture firms will work with CEOs," Weaver said. "Like a film producer or a general contractor, it means bringing to bear a network of contacts at a moment's notice to solve a real problem for a client."

According to Weaver, that means marketecture firms will have to live in a somewhat chaotic environment, adapting in real time to changing problems and new opportunities.

It won't stop changing
"Digital media is the first permanently dynamic channel that has ever existed," he said. "It won't stop changing. So, marketecture firms will need to exist in that kind of relative chaos."

Although Weaver stressed the relative differences facing firms on either side of the Oreo divide, he did predict one universal truth: the current interactive RFP process is fatally flawed and not long for this world.

"The transaction part of the RFP process is anachronistic," he said. "It is becoming increasingly standardized and automated, and those who take humans out of the process first will be rewarded."

On the other side of the equation, marketecture firms will never fit the traditional agency/media RFP model, Weaver said.

According to Weaver, successful marketecture players, which will be defined by a permanently dynamic ethos, will be better suited to address business goals, not media tasks.

"In this new world, anyone can take the lead," Weaver explained. "From the media seller, to the online buying shop, to the creative agency, anyone can play any position."

Staying afloat
To compete in the marketecture sphere, Weaver said firms should hire and train talent adept at strategy and problem solving.

"You'll need to be more proactive, identifying client issues and writing your own briefs," he said. "That means priming the pump a little more, seeking out special capabilities, hiring industry specialists and being creative."

For Weaver that means marketecture firms will serve their clients in something close to a consultant relationship, which means companies that were once fierce competitors will now find themselves working collaboratively.

"No doubt about it," Weaver said, "Strange bedfellows will emerge on the marketecture side because no one firm will own the client relationship."

Weaver concluded by urging attendees to return home and begin the internal discussion about what direction their business will take.

"Ask yourself what your strengths are now, what kind of assets you already have in-house," he said. "Then adopt a clear vision and plan proactively."

Michael Estrin is the associate editor at iMedia Connection. Read full bio.