Marketers’ Roundtable

Abbey Klaassen (Ad Age Digital) is moderating today’s Marketers Roundtable panel with Mel Clements (The Coca Cola Company), Andrew Shih (Procter & Gamble), Andrew Markowitz (Kraft Foods, Inc.) and Ken Loh (Oakley).

Abbey starts things off questioning the boys about the state of marketing today.

Andy Markowitz says his company has structured marketing into different silos and the challenge now is convergence. Things are accelerating so quickly that while there will always be a best of class of ad agencies, he’s not sure what things will look like a year down the road. Media and creative will merge, but beyond that, who knows? What his company is looking for now is ideas. That’s the cost of entry. It cuts across all the media fragmentation.

Ken says it’s important to hire the agencies that have expertise in a particular area or niche. There are a lot of agencies out there that claim to be able to do everything but what he’s found is that you won’t get the best of breed by going to a one-stop-shop. You need a specialist. Oakley has fewer agency relationships than they’ve had in the past. They currently don’t have a lot of agency relationships. They’re trying to bring a lot of things in-house. Something they haven’t brought in-house yet, however, is their online marketing which they continue to outsource.

Andy Shih says P&G doesn’t have a singular standardized model. They experiment and have very fragmented agency models for their different divisions. The core function of the leadership is to bring the talent together among the different layers. At the end of the day, you go where the talent is. You don’t want to necessarily be stuck to a single model if it’s going to hamper your ability to find the best talent. Find the best players in each of the spaces and go from there. It’s the Jason Calacanis approach to marketing!

Mel says they have specific agencies for specific tasks. It’s about getting them to the table at the same time and working towards the same goal.

Andy M rants that it’s not a sustainable marketing idea to keep rolling out multi-million dollar ad campaigns. Ad agencies have to find a new way to attract consumers.

Abby asks the panel: How much are you devoting to interactive media? Does interactive have to hold itself to a higher accountability?

Ken says it easier to make a case for interactive because the metrics are all there in front of you. There have been discussions about shifting more money to online because it’s easier to see the results and hold campaigns accountable. You can prove that they’re working.

Mel says it’s not as much a shift to interactive as much as it’s an expanding of the world of media. If you’re doing a direct mailing that postcard should have a URL on it. We are expanding the role of what digital can do and what digital can touch. Ken says, to him, AOL is traditional media, as is Yahoo. They’re not new. New to Mel is mobile or Internet gaming.

Andy S notes that it’s important for his brands to know where consumers are. It sounds cliché, he says, but it’s true. People aren’t hanging out in the same place they were five years ago. You have to go out and find them.

Andy M fights for putting dollars where users are consuming media. It’s really that simple. If users are online, you have to go online. If they’re finding you through print, you have to be there. You can’t look at media as a bucket of dollars. Each type of media supports different objectives. It’s your job to understand those objectives and know what’s going to get you the most engagement.

Measure and accountability is hugely important. The players that best know how to drive the measurements have a competitive advantage over the others. Since the space is not developed, those that have the best data are going to win.

Mel has a difficult time measuring in-house campaigns because the campaigns change 2-3 times a year and it’s usually something he’s never done before. How do you apply benchmarks to that? (Mel uses the word conundrum and I want to go up there and give him a big bear hug.)

Standardization is really important to Ken. So is being consistent with how you utilize your data. It’s not going to be sports vs. a community section. You know conversion rates are going to be better on different parts of your Web site simply because they lend themselves to that. You have to use different metrics to measure different areas of a Web site.

Andy S says one of the reasons people aren’t investing more in interactive media is because there’s a difference in language between traditional and new media. Also, it forces marketers to try and compare apples to oranges.

You can’t sacrifice innovation for the sake of integration. Video online is not going to look like what it looks like on TV. There’s a different world out there; accept that. You can’t try and make the Internet look like TV just because that’s what you’re comfortable with.

Abbey asks the panels if virtual worlds are a big PR stunt or if it represents a new era of marketing.

Mel jokes that if he wanted to go find a bunch of people playing Dungeons and Dragons, he’d go out and find a bunch of people playing Dungeons and Dragons. Hee. It seems Mel’s not sold yet.

In a time when dollars are pressed, you have to leave a little bit of room for innovation but when it goes up against guaranteed clicks or impressions, it’s tough to justify.

Andy S says while he doesn’t expect his company to make a lot of money through virtual worlds, they’d be crazy not to be testing them. Three years ago, would anyone have predicted how big MySpace was going to be? If you don’t learn about the new things going on you risk missing the boat. As established marketers, we have an obligation to learn.

Abbey: Are there any technologies that have surprised you over the past year?

Mel says no. The general themes that succeed are built on certain principles. AIM is big because he can log on and tell people he watched American Idol last night and that Sanjaya did well. (This is the second Sanjaya reference in two days. What is happening to the world?) [Sanjaya is the American Dream. –Susan]

Andy S says the "a-ha" for him has come from learning just how differently the Gen Y-ers consume media and how different they are in wanting to connect out and create communities. He thinks the future is going to be much different as a result of these consumers.

For Ken, there isn’t a technology that’s a surprise. The Internet is a medium that is a constant state of change. People are always coming up with new ideas.

Andy M says YouTube took him by surprise. It really changed the way consumers became producers. It’s something that’s still changing the landscape. He says something we have yet to solve is mobile marketing. The biggest issue he sees in the mobile marketplace is that it seems extraordinary fragmented and redundant. Andy’s still waiting for the tipping point and he has no idea how to tackle that market.

Abbey asks how the panel is using community?

Nowadays community is expected, says Ken. You have to have it. If your brand has fan sites outside of your site and there’s no community on your own site, that’s a problem. You have to accept the good with the bad. You can’t have a community where you’re always going in there and censoring disparaging comments. Once you do that, it’s no longer a community. Things have to evolve on their own, based on interaction.

Mel calls it super, super important to reach out to people who care about your brand. If people are saying something about you they want to connect and you have to give them a way to do that. Well said.

Lisa Barone is a writer, content marketer & VP of strategy at Overit Media. She's also a very active Twitterer, much to the dismay of the rest of the world.

See Lisa's author page for links to connect on social media.

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