CARAT CEO CALLS FOR 'REFORESTATION OF THE AD INDUSTRY'

Advertising Week Pep Talk Wows Time Warner Center Audience

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- In one of Advertising Week's more eloquent and spirited addresses, Carat Americas CEO David Verklin called on agencies and marketers to focus on a "reforestation of the ad industry" rather than continue to bemoan the "desert landscape" created by media fragmentation and ad-zapping.

Carat Americas CEO David Verklin painted a glowing picture of the future of targeted advertising.
Mr. Verklin lived up to his reputation as a powerful speaker, presenting his vision for the marketing industry during an Advertising Week event at the Time Warner Center. He called for industry growth driven by “intent-based marketing,” largely enabled by the Web and digital TV.

Rare upbeat picture
“Search [engine marketing] has turned [advertising] from a cost center to a profit center. No privacy issues have occurred and we have eliminated waste,” he told an audience obviously enthralled by such a rare upbeat picture of the future of commercial persuasion.

Mr. Verklin called on competitors to work together to define ways to radically alter traditional advertising models and adopt new techniques that target consumers with intent to purchase. He said many more advertisers without the resources for major TV ad buys might spend on campaigns if they could “capture the momentum of aperture,” like street merchants selling umbrellas near the subway on a rainy night.

He cited the potential for an advertiser to cross-reference a consumer's Google search for information on pregnancy with a command to TiVo to download shows about babies. Such knowledge could enable an advertiser such as baby stroller manufacturer to reach an interested customer by inserting relevant ad messages via TiVo and other brands of digital video recorders. “We will no longer be bludgeoning the consumer to death” with irrelevant ads, he said.

Mr. Verklin’s call for co-operation included participation in a number of Carat initiatives, such as the Carat International TV Exchange, a group looking at how ad models might evolve in digital TV, domestically and abroad.

Avoiding another bubble burst
“It is intended to avoid what happened with the Internet. The bubble burst because we were unclear how sites would become profitable without a [working] ad model. We can’t let it happen again.”

He urged industry participants in the future of digital TV come together to discuss ideas, concerns and efforts. Similarly, he mentioned his agency is working with magazine giant Meredith Corp. to convene a symposium on print accountability and search.

Mr. Verklin said the grand shifts occurring in advertising would upend media plans that are currently geared toward major TV buys. Media plans will look “like the tiles of your bathroom floor,” incorporating less TV but more digital and interactive spending, sporting events, PR and experiential marketing. “A new plan is going to emerge that will be no more than 50% of spending in TV. Today it’s 66%. Forty billion dollars will shift to other media.” Mr. Verklin said he anticipated greater spending on minority audiences. “Seventeen percent of Americans do not speak English.”

Revisiting comments he made a year ago, Mr. Verklin said his predictions of the convergence of direct marketing and interactive have proved correct with Internet advertising pioneer AQuantive’s acquisition and merger of agencies Avenue A and Razor Fish.

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