Empowered consumer dominates CMDC conference
Empowerment was one of the recurring themes of the annual Canadian Media Directors' Council conference on Tuesday. In exploring the day's topic - Mining Growth: Discovering Potential in Media Mayhem - speakers referred to empowered consumers, the blurring of lines between media, and understanding how media is being consumed rather than how it is delivered. The day began with a keynote address by Maurice Levy, chairman and CEO of Paris-based Publicis Groupe SA. He focused on what he called his two passions: the future and growth.
Empowerment was one of the recurring themes of the annual Canadian Media Directors’ Council conference on Tuesday. In exploring the day’s topic – Mining Growth: Discovering Potential in Media Mayhem – speakers referred to empowered consumers, the blurring of lines between media, and understanding how media is being consumed rather than how it is delivered. The day began with a keynote address by Maurice Levy, chairman and CEO of Paris-based Publicis Groupe SA. He focused on what he called his two passions: the future and growth.
Levy said, ‘Our clients’ requirements are changing in radical and sometimes quite unexpected ways. They are changing because consumers’ demands are following a new path, marked by incredible speed and constant evolution. Consumers do not want to be given an astonishingly wide-ranging choice, they want that choice to be renewed at intervals that are always shorter. This is the reason why we have to redefine our very notion of time.
‘What we have to deal with is not only change, but an acceleration of change itself. Not only transformations, but the transformation of transformations: if you remember [that] our job consists of inspiring loyalty, and creating commitments out of customs, you’ll understand it is indeed a real challenge to make fidelity out of the inconstancy and impulsiveness which characterize so much consumer behaviour these days.’
Levy said the three words changing the media landscape, consumer behaviour, and society at large are: digital, interactive and mobile. Globalization, Levy said, is a great opportunity but also the major explanation of media mayhem. If part of the job of a media agency is to know the consumer, he said it’s increasingly difficult when the consumer is everywhere, and their feelings, emotions, and expectations are global, various, diverse, and ever-changing.
‘It is more and more difficult to empathize with more and more people who have less and less in common: this is the harshest symptom of what we may call over-fragmentation.’
View From The Top came from a panel of executives from the media supply side: Nick Arakgi, GM, Viacom Outdoor Canada; Michael Goldblum, publisher, The Toronto Star; Paul Ski, EVP, CHUM radio; Peter Viner, president and CEO, CanWest MediaWorks; and Ken Whyte, publisher and editor-in-chief, MacLeans.
The overriding theme of their comments was that bad creative doesn’t work no matter what media channel used. Arakgi said that it doesn’t matter if media plans are good if the creative is bad. He added a medium won’t work using creative that was developed for another medium, pointing to billboards that often sport re-purposed print creative and logos that are too small for the OOH medium.
Of the TV industry, Viner said it has done a bad job of selling the power of the medium, which it should be doing rather than simply concentrating on 30-second spots.
Another highlight of the day was Brave New Waves, the presentation by Rishad Tobaccowala, CEO of Denuo and CIO of Publicis Groupe Media. The title refers not to technology but to consumers and the fact that people are increasingly being empowered with and by technology. He said this empowerment doesn’t mean planners should throw out so-called old media but instead should integrate old and new, something that he likened to pizza and Tabasco sauce; a little spice making an old standard better.
Reaching the Young Adult involved Nathaniel Brochin, managing director of mobile marketing company 12snap Inc. of New York; Sandy Perlman, director marketing communications for Microsoft Canada; Alain Tascan VP and studio GM, Electronic Arts in Montreal; and Max Valiquette, president of Youthography of Toronto.
Time and place shifting is a critical component of what 12snap is doing, said Brochin, as well as choice – offering the right message, the right time and place, and the young consumer choosing to access it. Tascan said customization and empowerment are the key trends for reaching young adults with customized offers and empowerment coming through interaction with brands via the digital screen. Valiquette said that young people are accepting of advertising as long as they’re the right ads, ones that are relevant and respectful to them as consumers, but they are very good at ignoring advertising they don’t like. He said the screen is the centre of their media universe and when they’re multitasking, they’re not always doing things at the same time, they are quickly moving in and out of various media and tasks.
Pierre Karl Peladeau, president and CEO of Quebecor Inc., addressed the crowd as luncheon speaker with, Riding the Changing Wave. He talked of the dizzying and energizing pace of change today and how Quebecor is dealing with it. One example is CanoeLive, an offering being tested May through September in Toronto involving a current affairs program on Sun TV streamed live on canoe.ca, bringing in journalists from the Toronto Sun, and dialog with consumers via email or Web cam.
Much of what Quebecor is doing is being shaped by research conducted for the company by Leger Marketing, which found that the high-income, most connected consumers in the 18 to 39 age group fall into a category called multi-channel surfers. He said three points in particular emerged from the research: you have to be on all channels to succeed; single-channel media will simply not be able to deliver what the marketplace wants in news and information; and they want to consume it as information ‘snacks’.
Peladeau said: ‘News and information are circulating as never before in the history of the world. There is a great appetite for it. Success will be measured by being more closely connected to our consumers than ever before – and listening intelligently to what they want.’
The final session of the day, Global Perspectives, was a high-powered panel of Irwin Gotlieb, chairman and CEO of WPP-owned Group M; Daryl Simm, president and CEO, Omnicom Media Group (OMG); Ray Warren, president of Carat USA and Carat Media Group Americas; and Hugh Dow, president of M2 Universal.
Looking at how the media environment and role of media will change over the next five to 10 years, Warren said today there isn’t a media landscape, it’s a river that’s more fluid and can’t be dealt with from a conventional perspective. He said it was time to get rid of GRPs and perhaps focus on Net Ratings Points.
Warren said that the future is on the strategic side of the business and on engagement, adding that, ‘when you engage people, creative is not as important.’ Dow said the big adjustment is to come to grips with the fact that the focus is not what the agency or client wants, it’s what the consumer wants.
‘Clients are looking for thought leadership, how we can build communication plans in a mosaic that changes constantly.’
The panel also said the industry needs to put more focus on recruiting students into the business, to bring in bright young people and strategic thinkers. Simm said the growth within his company has been in recruiting people who were business people at heart, those who come up with marketing solutions rather than just media solutions.
After the session, Gottlieb stated that new media is no longer new and old media are getting many of the same capabilities of the new media, such as being digitally delivered and addressable. This blurring of the lines between media means that media specialties need to be spread across an agency organization much faster than before.
He said, ‘The latest stuff is always handled by a specialist but the speed with which you have to move it from a specialty and reintegrate it is escalating. You’ve got to shorten the window. I think going forward we will have fewer distinctions, few definitions, and more similarities across media. We will be looking at the way is media consumed much more than the way they are delivered.’