Marketing’s next

Meredith, the magazine publisher, is taking on functions of ad agencies, as the Wall Street Journal describes in detail today. It’s a smart move by Meredith and it’s inevitable as we shift from selling scarcity to selling service to marketers. Meredith is taking on the functions of a creative agency. In a networked media ecosystem, I also think that media companies will take on the functions of the media-buying side.

See also this piece arguing that a company should invest not in marketing but in its relationships with customers.

Just two anecdotes in the ongoing shift that will hit the ad industry just the way it has hit media.

(Disclosure: Meredith brought me to Iowa to talk about WWGD? last year.)

  • Perry Gaskill

    Both the WSJ and Conversation Agent links provide some useful insight; thanks for passing them along. At the risk of picking nits, “the ongoing shift that will hit the ad industry just the way it has hit media” is already happening, but it seems to be one of those things flying below the radar of those of us paying more attention to the news side of the equation.

    There was a survey released in January in which the ad agency search firm of RSW/US asked a broad spectrum of companies about their likes and dislikes of ad agencies. And what was interesting, at least it seemed to me, was not so much the summary statistical findings but instead the raw open-ended comments included at the end which could be grouped roughly into the following two significant areas:

    Return on Investment – ROI was a big deal in the RSW/US survey comments, but as Valeria Maltoni points out in CA, using ROI as an objective metric alone tends to ignore value which can be subjective.

    Business Process – There seemed to be a repeated theme in the survey comments that a big gripe with ad agencies was that they didn’t know enough about the business the clients were in. Things such as not knowing how the business made money, or how it had positioned itself in a market.

    My personal opinion is that existing online advertising is still caught up mostly in the focus of turning ink into pixels, or a 30-second TV spot into an “interactive” which it’s really not except for the presence of a pause button.

  • Thank you for the link, Jeff.

    @Perry – you make a vital point. Alas, often it’s not just the ad agency that doesn’t get the business the client is in (I must have worked with many of them, heavens!). It’s also the communications and marketing people inside the organization that really need to become versed in translating what they do in business terms so they can set up, track and measure the right things.

    As long as people keep buying ineffective inventory… well, we’ll keep having TV spots as online ads.

    There are more intangibles as well that are harder to measure: brand impact, future revenue, pass on revenue, etc. A digital company is better positioned to capture enough data to learn about those patterns — like Google.

    Good discussion.

  • Meredith has the right idea here, and I think other major media companies will follow suit eventually.

    Advertisers are shifting a lot of marketing dollars toward producing engaging, valuable content for their customers. That content’s not advertising, but it’s marketing. So it makes perfect sense that they would turn to people who’ve been producing content for a living for decades: magazine publishers, radio companies, local TV stations. Workers in those places know how to tell stories, to engage audiences, to inform and entertain people.

    @Valeria — great point about the PR/marketing staff at these organizations. Sometimes, it helps to have the outside perspective of a journalist/content-creator to help figure out just what the message should be.