Tobi Elkin Reports from Ariz. iMedia Summit

WHAT ONLINE MEDIA SELLERS AREN'T DOING WELL

Former General Foods CEO Offers Blunt Advice to iMedia Summit

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AdAge.com) -- Marketers must hold Internet advertising to a higher standard of critical analysis than traditional
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advertising because it is a "brand new medium with a history of overpromising," the former CEO of General Foods told a gathering of online marketing executives yesterday.

Speaking to the online buyers and sellers attending the iMedia Summit at the Camelback Inn desert resort here, Erv Shames, who was also president of Kraft USA, criticized the online industry for tolerating the prevalence of "spam" and the proliferation of pop-up ads.

Spam will 'kill you'
"You've got to clean up the environment," he said, referring to a cyberspace landscape lashed by a daily blizzard of spam, the name for unsolicited e-mail. "Spam is going to kill you," he warned, citing a recent New York Times article that reported 45% of all e-mail is made up of commercial messages unrequested and unwanted by their increasingly angry targets.

A 30-year veteran of consumer package goods companies who now teaches at the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business, Mr. Shames urged agencies and online publishers to offer traditional marketers deeper consumer insights and analysis before the clients ask for them. "Online publishers and agencies are in a great position to do this vs. the traditional agencies. Marketers want [these statistics]."

Measurable results
He pointed out that marketers are demanding measurable results not only from digital media but from all their communications programs as they face more pressure than ever to deliver projected quarterly earnings. But while online media are well-positioned to deliver measurable results that prove digital venues can be a valuable part of the media mix, they're not doing it effectively yet, he said.

He also encouraged online media buyers and sellers to employ marketing modeling. Used by most consumer package goods companies, the technique analyzes every aspect of the marketing mix from promotions and sponsorships to public relations and advertising. "You need to create uncommon media mixes based on common media metrics," Mr. Shames said.

Insight rather than cost reductions
He also warned that marketers needed to stop focusing on cost reduction because "it is not a winning strategy." He said they need to "grow marketing insight" rather than pare marketing dollars.

"I'll be blunt," Mr. Shames said in the portion of his speech that drew rousing applause, "agencies continue to underpay their people."

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