On the MiC with Matt Di Paola

We caught up with MediaCom Canada's chief strategy and innovation officer to talk about his first six months in media ahead of his DX3 appearance this Thursday.

Matt Di Paola made the switch to the media side six months ago, joining MediaCom Canada as chief strategy and innovation officer after a stint as SVP, managing director, with Proximity Canada. This Thursday he takes the stage at the inaugural DX3 Canada conference to talk about his first six months in the industry. MiC caught up with him to get his take on media innovation ahead of the discussion later this week.

What should we expect from your talk at DX3 this Thursday?

For me, someone who is a non-media person coming into the industry it is really about challenging how we approach things. A lot of what I am going to talk about is with the way the world is going and the way the industry has gone in the past couple years.

It is about questioning and second-guessing how media goes about media planning: how the business structures are set up, how the operational structures are set up. What types of questions are we asking and are we asking the right questions? I will be walking through scenarios [asking] what if we looked at it this way? There will be less answers in the presentation and more approaches to provoke thought.

What has surprised you most in your first six months at a media agency?

To be perfectly candid, I think the prominence of rate and cost in the overall discussion has surprised me the most. Whether we are working with a media partner trying to decide where to place the media dollars or with procurement, the talk about who gets the best rates is still such a big part of the discussion instead of what do we do to drive our clients business?

There has been too much focus on how we spend the dollars most effectively and not enough on what is actually driving our clients business. At the end of the day we have to help our clients sell their products and services. That is our job. With all of the consolidation made in the industry I think some of that thinking has gotten lost in how decisions are made.

Don’t get me wrong, it has to be part of the discussion, but giving a great rate should be the starting point. It is the insight and the intelligence and the foresight which isn’t getting as much focus as it should.

In the creative agency world there is always a tension between the business lead and the creative lead, you need that to get better insight for the client. That same tension has been missing between strategy and investment here, where it’s two people challenging each other on what’s the most effective versus what’s the most efficient.

How can this thinking be changed?

[I] don’t know that it’s about changing the way people think as much as it is returning to the ways media and creative people used to work – returning to a place where you really have to understand things like human insights or technology insights. That dialogue needs to come back and more time needs to be spent diagnosing the problem you need to solve. They don’t understand how to approach the fragmentation of media so they jump into tactics right away, without having an understanding of the problem they are trying to solve and the insights that drive the solution to that problem.

Matt Di Paola speaks this Thursday as part of the DX3 Canada conference.