Media: Double Standards - Media witnessing a 'once-in-a-lifetime revolution'

Recessionary and digital forces are combining to have a profound effect on the media market, according to Andy Sloan and Peter Mitchell.

ANDY SLOAN - CHIEF EXECUTIVE, ALL RESPONSE MEDIA

- How would you describe the media market right now?

Exciting. We are experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime media revolution and opportunities are emerging in both traditional and newer media. When we launched in 1995 as All Response Media Interactive, we had to do a lot of explaining about the "Interactive" bit. A plethora of one-eyed wannabes were making all sorts of predictions about the "information super-highway" and I think that it's fair to say most of those have been wildly surpassed.

- What parts of your business are still growing?

Obviously online. But also television. Price is subject to demand and our advertisers believe in TV advertising, so a lower price naturally results in such advertisers spending more.

- How would you describe the culture at your agency and does its location have an impact on this?

Our business culture is set from the management, not from our location. We are a very can-do agency, evidenced in our early mover advantage in areas such as DRTV, affiliates, and PPC search. This culture is deliberately nurtured, having always been structured in client business teams rather than media silos. Clerkenwell is a great place. It's like Soho used to be but without the sex trade and tourists.

- What do most clients want from you at the moment?

Customers. Our clients want results and a competitive advantage. We tend to attract entrepreneurial businesses for which the price of media is immensely important, but fast, flexible and innovative media solutions are just as critical. Obviously, some of our well-read clients want us to deliver them TV airtime for 50p per thousand, and are seriously wondering why national newspapers are not now paying them to advertise.

- Is the data-driven media market more competitive now most mainstream agencies claim to be expert in the field?

Clearly, the market has become more competitive, and this results in some advertisers choosing the one-stop shop approach. But for those advertisers for whom customer acquisition is of vital importance, they will always seek a solution where the data and response culture of the agency is bottom-up rather than top-down and where there are more than just a few token "direct professionals".

- Should the public worry about the ways in which companies such as Phorm plan to use customer data online?

I think that the public should be concerned about any organisation collecting and storing detailed personal information about them without their consent. A benign owner of that data may not pose any immediate threat but we can never be sure what the future holds. Whether it is identity cards, DNA databases or allowing a spyware company unfettered access to our surfing behaviour, we should be on our guard. As a consumer, I like cookies, and allow them to be on my PC for the functionality that they afford me. Equally, I'm sure that I will be happy to receive relevant advertising based on my online behaviour, so long as there are sufficient safeguards from that behaviour being linked to me as an individual.

- What was the last ad campaign you responded to as a consumer?

Last week, I was bidding to purchase a Cornish holiday cottage that I have stayed in for three consecutive summers. I had initially responded to an English Country Cottages ad three years ago, and following a successful experience, continued to respond to their ongoing communications. This most recent response could have been a big one (fortunately for my debt position, the owners decided they couldn't part with it!).

PETER MITCHELL - CHIEF EXECUTIVE, RAPP MEDIA

- How would you describe the media market right now?

Exciting, tumultuous, narrow-minded and in denial over the impact of digital on all things. Led by trading, not strategy. Data-rich, insight-poor. Not customer-centric enough. But with a focus on ROI like never before, we have the opportunity to demonstrate to clients how being obsessive about consumers and their behaviour is the key to marketing effectiveness.

- What parts of your business are still growing?

Glad to say, all. It's easy to pinpoint digital, but even the much maligned data area is growing through challenging convention (and lots of competitors closing). We're actually seeing data become more sexy and more on the radar for more marketing directors.

- How would you describe the culture at your agency and does its location have an impact on this?

Hard-working, totally client-focused, fun and challenging. We debate a lot - surprising for media people - and that's the key. I think we'd have the same culture wherever we were based. And while Glamoursmith may not be everyone's cup of tea, right now with the sun shining over the banks of the Thames and in a modern, air-conditioned office, it's blissful!

- What do most clients want from you at the moment?

Value for money, obviously. Insight - especially that derived from all the data the digital context provides - that helps grow their business. Ideas, of course. Integration, increasingly. Real passion and engagement. Pretty much the same as ever, really, only in spades.

- Is the data-driven media market more competitive now most mainstream agencies claim to be expert in the field?

Ultimately, yes, more players mean more competition. However, what is an expert? Do mainstream agencies really have the depth and breadth of expertise, the heritage in data and insight? Can they compete with the power that several hundred data experts and strategists bring to bear every day for our clients?

- Should the public worry about the ways in which companies such as Phorm plan to use customer data online?

Behavioural targeting at an ISP level is a real game-changer and allows advertisers to engage with internet users in ways not seen before. It also allows publishers to maximise value from their online inventory and hopefully ensure that premium content such as newspaper sites remains free to access. However, users have a right to know how their data is being used online and for what purpose. The industry also needs to demonstrate why this technology is being implemented and how users will benefit from it.

- What was the last ad campaign you responded to as a consumer?

I bought a fantastic pack of ten Budweiser with £5 off in Somerfield, having seen the ad in a break in Corrie. My arm was twisted by the compelling creative and sympathetic media placement. But, actually, mostly by the sunshine and a lack of Bud. And, yes, they are a client ...

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