Verklin tells MIC Forum seven things to watch for in the months ahead

The first Media in Canada Forum was held Tuesday at the Toronto Downtown Marriott. The crowd of nearly 400 - a cross-section of media, agency and marketing execs (half involved in media buying) - was abuzz after hearing from media experts including keynote speaker David Verklin, the New York-based CEO of Carat Americas, Paul Woolmington, head chef of NYC-based The Media Kitchen and Brian Elliot, Amsterdam-based CEO of hot shop StrawberryFrog.

There are seven major trends in media to watch for, Verklin advised in his keynote, themed around the Crackle of Change affecting media. The first is the ascendancy of digital as a primary motivator functioning in a DM-style role. Verklin noted Carat had observed that '80% of people going into a Hyundai dealership had been online first,' and he predicts that while online creative work is rarely discussed, 'it will be the centre play.'

The first Media in Canada Forum was held Tuesday at the Toronto Downtown Marriott. The crowd of nearly 400 – a cross-section of media, agency and marketing execs (half involved in media buying) – was abuzz after hearing from media experts including keynote speaker David Verklin, the New York-based CEO of Carat Americas, Paul Woolmington, head chef of NYC-based The Media Kitchen and Brian Elliot, Amsterdam-based CEO of hot shop StrawberryFrog.

There are seven major trends in media to watch for, Verklin advised in his keynote, themed around the Crackle of Change affecting media. The first is the ascendancy of digital as a primary motivator functioning in a DM-style role. Verklin noted Carat had observed that ’80% of people going into a Hyundai dealership had been online first,’ and he predicts that while online creative work is rarely discussed, ‘it will be the centre play.’

Prediction #2: ‘Advertising to the interested is the future.’ Verklin says firms will be looking to experiment with 100% composition technology, where marketers are looking not at simple CPM numbers but at targeting their bull’s-eye. TV commercials will be a portal, the beginning of a process, where the consumer will push a button to get expanded information or bookmark a microsite. ‘Effective CPM will be the metric of the future,’ says Verklin, colourfully describing it as ‘targeting the toothless more effectively,’

referring to his example of the waste encountered when an advertiser with a very specific target (such as Polident) uses TV, fuelling this purity of audience push.

Thirdly, Verklin foresees a collision of commerce and cause where marketers will combine their efforts with philanthropy, creating a new, and hybrid medium. The fourth thing to pay attention to is the rise of experiential marketing. ‘Look for ways for your brand to have physical contact with your demo,’ he further advised the crowd. As such, he sees an increase in sports and event marketing.

In fifth place comes the transformation of media planning into communications planning. Part and parcel of which is shaping creative to work in different media vehicles, and offering more metrics. ‘In the next 36 months we will see virtually every media plan with metrics,’ predicts Verklin, urging marketers to look to human behavioural motivations to drive their brand’s success.

The sixth thing to watch is gaming, which Verklin says will be far bigger than anyone can imagine, and ‘holds a number of clues to the future of advertising.’ Noting that it’s currently ‘massively important to the music business,’ he predicts that Spike TV’s gaming awards will become the Oscars to the 11-year-old set.

And finally, the hottest area of marketing today, as per Verklin, is analytics, specifically ROI calculation. Pointing to Marketing Management Analytics’ pioneering work in real-time, on-demand analytics that will enable aberation spotting and response, he says that in the next 36 months systems allowing rapid adjustments will be in action.

Other things Verklin advised the audience to pay attention to and participate in include mobile, strategic entertainment and outdoor. Verklin says that in these days of PVR, he’s high on outdoor: ‘A picture on a stick seems smart to me,’ then pointed to the high-tech end of O-O-H, such as a Coke board in NYC with 24/7 monitoring, changeable by phone. And as for mobile, he deems it’s going to be ‘one of the most exciting spaces in the next 36 months.’

The Forum agenda also included panels that explored how partners from the various sides of the industry can best work together as media morphs, and showcased some of the best work recently done, as well as exploring issues and giving a heads up on some upcoming ventures.

In one such panel, moderator Sunni Boot, CEO of ZenithOptimedia, addressed the issue of clutter, and also stated that she felt a lot of brand integration deals felt cookie cutter lately, to which CHUM president and CEO Jay Switzer announced that CHUM was limiting the number of major things they will do on the integration front to two really big things – one being the new VJ Search initiative (see MIC Sept. 1/05 for full story), and another to be announced in a few weeks.

When the debate turned to the limited opportunity for these kinds of deals in the Canadian market, given our U.S.-heavy dial, Alliance Atlantis exec chair Michael MacMillan disagreed, saying he believes there will be no shortage of opps. Pointing to the niche audience potential of specialties as an area where bigger need not mean better, depending on who you want to reach, he illustrated Verklin’s purity of audience theory by saying: ‘A solution for rose lovers can have greater value.’

Montreal-based Transcontinental Media president André Préfontaine also spoke to niche opps, citing plans to further develop the group’s digital publishing strategy, and marrying the opportunity to gain high reach and engagement in niche verticals with plans to get involved in database marketing in a significant way, and to provide previously unavailable information to advertisers.

The closing presentation, a fast-paced insightful glimpse into the new consumer and a rousing exhortation to create the big idea delivered by Toronto-based Capital C president Tony Chapman, was another crowd pleaser, and ended with a call to action to the Canadian marketing industry. Chapman, stating concerns over the brain and control drain from our market to U.S. HQs, inspired the audience to come together to fight the trend, and to forge the way towards finding effective new ways to connect with the consumer. ‘We all have to come together and get the best insights on our consumers, and say we need a whole new strategy to go to market. We have to be the country, we have to be the industry, that stands together and proves that we can collaborate, as the age of push marketing is over.’

In other highlights, MIC‘s mother mag strategy‘s media director of the year award was once again handed to ZenithOptimedia’s Boot, and the top media agency award was once again collected for M2 Universal by president Hugh Dow. (See Tuesday’s MIC newsflash for a full winners list).