Come Together… Right Now

Now is the time for all good men… and women… to come to the aid of their country. Or at least their agencies and sales organizations.

For some time now, there has been talk among the ranks of agencies, pundits, top media sales brass, and industry wonks such as myself about the need for true integration of media and marketing products and services. With consolidation among providers of both, a desire for synergy (I know, I know, I hate that word, too) and a quest for the efficiencies yielded by that synergy have emerged.

It has been well over a year since serious calls went out for recently consolidated media companies such as Disney and Viacom to provide agencies with cross-platform media opportunities for their clients. What kind of unique deal can Viacom give an advertiser now that it holds in its stables MTV, VH1, and CBS? What sort of program can be offered to a major advertiser to reach all the segments of a target audience across Disney’s print, broadcast, and digital properties?

And what about on the agency side? Clients are looking for more integrated service from their agencies. Looking to maximize effectiveness and efficiencies throughout the full breadth of their marketing efforts, clients are now seeking a holistic, interdisciplinary approach to their businesses. Pressures for profitability from stockholders, a shifting media landscape, and the continued fragmentation of media consumption have instigated the need for constructing comprehensive communications packages to create a “Surround Sound” marketing environment that can corral highly segmented target audiences.

So now that we’ve been talking about it for so long now, maybe it’s time to finally do something about it?

Well, some companies are trying. Disney has put together ABC Full Circle, which aims to give advertisers a menu from which to select media properties and coble together a package that covers a variety of media and vehicles. Viacom’s got outfits such as MTV 360, which seeks to do something similar. Procter & Gamble recently did its own deal with Viacom for $300 million; P&G will run advertising over several of Viacom’s broadcast properties.

But let’s face it, as far as most agencies are concerned, Full Circle and 360 are just names, signifiers without signifieds, hands on a clock that point to no numbers.

As agencies, most of you are still forced to deal with the varying media units as though they were separate silos. You still have to buy each medium, online or print or broadcast, as if it were a unique buy. There is no real integration with the media, no efficiencies gained by buying cross-media platform packages.

And what about within agencies? With many places, it is just as bad on the inside. Each marketing and media service is guarded against query from another, seeing the possibility of other media in a mix as an assault on its way of life (i.e., budget). The different services within the agency, from the broadcast units to creative, function like Balkanized fiefdoms, every new planning cycle like another plot to assassinate the Archduke Ferdinand.

What must be done to give clients what they want? At the end of the day, clients don’t care about turf (well, not always); they care about effectiveness and efficiency. They care about having their advertising work and being cost-effective.

So, how are we going to give it to them?

The answer is, incentive.

Neither agencies nor sales organizations are traditionally structured to provide incentive for integration. It is up to agencies as well as media companies to find ways to provide incentive for those working within to pull together as a cohesive unit and give their clients the best intelligence and output possible.

I am dazzled thinking about how much better a client’s marketing and advertising efforts would be if all factions worked together to do what is best for the client and not just what is best for themselves.

Once advertising agencies and media sales organizations start operating under the same principles of synergy that clients want from their marketing programs, “integration” and “convergence” will no longer be just words.

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