A view from Matthew Hook

Coming to America: the $10 billion Mediapalooza

Americans have a knack for naming things in a memorable way. We’ve had Watergate and Snowmaggedon, and now there’s Mediapalooza.

No, this isn’t a psychedelic-rock alternative to this week’s Media360. It’s the name Adweek applied to a spate of domestic and global media pitches currently being launched by US businesses. It’s an oddly upbeat name for a phenomenon that will see thousands of media planners wave farewell to their families for several taco-fuelled months locked in the office, arguing over every previous slide of content.

Reported pitches in the market include (deep breath) Unilever, Coca-Cola, SC Johnson, Johnson & Johnson, Visa, L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble, Fox, Wells Fargo, Coty, CVS, Royal Caribbean, Sears, Kmart and Volkswagen. The total spend to date is estimated at about $10 billion, or roughly the size of the whole UK advertising market. More is to follow. So what on earth is going on?

The total spend to date is roughly the size of the whole UK advertising market. So what on earth is going on?

The market that created Google and Apple is often surprisingly risk-averse in marketing, particularly in the legacy media accounts. But change in media is becoming too interesting to ignore, with programmatic and increasing media creativity creating a clear new opportunity to stimulate growth. With a stable economy and a short window before a "presidential year", marketers have seized the opportunity to make their media operations faster, smarter and more measurable.

The other big factor is globalisation. Obviously, the US has more global businesses than any other country but, with such a vast and complex market on their doorstep, it is sometimes easy to ignore the rest of the world. Marketing globalisation is rising up the agenda and media is one of the best potential catalysts.

Beyond this, the causation is difficult to untangle – history is generally written by the winners and, whichever agencies and approaches prosper, it will have a profound effect on the shape of the market that will only become clear over time. But the net effect is that media is centre stage, and this is a potential positive in a US market where media has frequently had secondary status and creative use of media certainly has not yet reached its full potential.

It’s not unlike the period of rapid change in UK media at the start of this century in which the rise of media strategy took hold. As it did for us, this focus will bring new challenges in providing genuine value in a way that is transparent, accountable and scalable but, ultimately, these challenges should make the industry stronger. We should all keep a close eye on Mediapalooza. A terrible name but, this time, believe the hype.

Matthew Hook is the managing director at Carat