Cross Platform Conundrum


Liam Walsh: A regular complaint by the agency folk is that integrated solutions from media owners are poorly executed. Worse, that the structures to deliver cross platform don’t exist and that too many sales people are involved.

“Why can’t it just be one person or team doing it all” says the grumpy media agency.

And the publishers listen and genuinely try or sometimes actually deliver cross platform teams. PBL, 7 group particularly.

7 group recently received a lot of coverage for their new unit.

However, there are a couple of elements to this issue of integration that dont get much attention.

  • There are very few campaigns that are asking for cross platform solutions.
  • There are very few campaigns that necessarily benefit from cross-platform.
  • Seemingly no public data on the multiplier effect of cross platform when delivered by one media group.
  • There is an expectation by the media that they can command a premium while the agency think it justifies a discount.

Most interestingly to me is that the agencies are nearly always built with specialist digital teams. That is they are NOT integrated.

Agency not integrated but agency demands integrated responses. I am comfortable with hypocrisy as a concept, it’s just silly that businesses think they can transact meaningfully when nobody calls out this seemingly obvious disconnect. Surely this is not the basis for good commerce.

Ben Shepherd (Media Agency Wanker perspective): Whilst I’d love to hit back at Liam I pretty much agree with most of his points funnily enough.

The cross platform sell was a great idea initially when it was considered that it was a real solution for advertisers. When I was at Yahoo! prior to the Yahoo!7 deal, we thought a cross platform affiliation would be the answer to all of our problems, when in reality it probably wasn’t.

Personally, the cross platform sell often comes across to agencies as generally a grab for incremental sales revenue … the chance to take a $2m TV budget and turn it into a 2.4m media group spend. For the established traditional players, it is often simply an attempt to try and extend their position of power in other mediums (ie TV, press) to online. The problem is, for online there are a lot more options for media agencies and advertisers and to ignore these is irresponsible. Maybe I’m a cynic (very possible), but I haven’t seen an example of a cross platform response that saw the TV network take a hit on their allocation to make an idea really sing online – the bells and whistles are always on top and often at a premium.

Is there a client benefit? Sometimes yes … often no. Most of the time what happens is a TV brief will go to a network, who will then drag it in their online cousins and position something as an ‘integrated’ solution. The thing is, running banners on the website of the show you are sponsoring on TV isn’t integration. That said, there is a lot of potential in this approach if it can evolve – the idea of engaging your audience across platforms and bringing in advertisers to create meaningful, valuable experiences for users is incredibly appealing … but often right now the defintion of meaningful and valuable is a little off.

Is there client benefit in terms of business objectives? Yet to be determined … and that’s what counts right?

Another initial argument was that media agencies wanted a one stop shop because they didn’t have the time/resource/inclination to deal with 40 different suppliers. Is this true … you would hope not but in some cases it no doubt is. As Liam points out above, another factor in the mix is most digital departments at agencies (both media and creative) are seperate anyway … and are not used to working in a truly integrated manner. Still, over time this will change and the evolution should be reasonably rapid over the next 2 years.

The cross platform sell isn’t going away – the media groups still believe in it and they’re a stubborn bunch. The emphasis is now on them to show exactly why this should be appealing to advertisers beyond pretty screengrabs and sizzle reels. Like the rest of digital, there is a shortage of meaningful data that connects activity to a result … a business result. It’s up to a Media Group to put themselves out there, commission research across platforms and really show the added benefit that comes with meaningful integration.

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One response to “Cross Platform Conundrum

  1. Two more things for you to think about.

    1. Consumers expect campaigns to be integrated. If you are running a TV or print campaign, they would naturally go to the associated website to find out more about it. Consumers don’t think like planners.

    2. Online is generally the strongest engagement platform for campaigns. Acting as a hub, the ability of TV or print to create a call to action to visit the website is the pay-off and really where the magic happens. In other words online drives integrated campaigns and that should never be forgotten.

    I’ve been pulling together integrated campaigns for over 10 years now and trust me they really do work. The only thing holding the whole industry up is the island mentality of digital. Broadcasters and publishers have had the ability to run integrated campaigns for a very long time, we’ve just been waiting for the agencies to catch-up.

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