Are Consumers Warm to Your Brand? Or Cool?

Q&A: PHDiq Managing Director Kevin MacLean

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- As media agencies continue their transition toward integrating digital media planning and buying with more traditional media such as TV and print, MediaWorks checks in with some of the players charged with making it happen.
Kevin MacLean
Kevin MacLean

Kevin MacLean is the managing director, West for PHDiq, where he oversees the development of digital media programs for Omnicom media agency PHD. Mr. MacLean previously worked on the Hewlett-Packard account for the former Modem Media (now Publicis Modem) and was on the team at Grey Interactive that launched build-to-order computers on Dell.com.

Here, he talks about integration, return on investment and why the 30-second spot isn't dead yet.

MediaWorks: There has been a lot of talk recently about media agencies using digital at the core of their media planning. Where does digital fit into in PHD's strategy?

Kevin MacLean: I'm always a bit suspicious of anyone who says that anything is at the core of media or any other aspect of marketing planning other than the consumer. At PHD we strive to approach each business challenge -- and that is all that marketing is, addressing a client's business challenges via communication -- in a channel-neutral manner. We start with a business imperative, break down the identified target audience and then craft a media plan in concert with our clients and agency partners that reflects the plain truths of that target's media consumption, attitudes and needs -- not necessarily in that order.

So digital plays the same role as any other channel does in the marketing mix; sometimes it leads, sometimes it follows, sometimes it plays a very limited role, or no role at all. But that role is always dictated by the target consumer, not what is the flavor of the month or what channel a particular partner agency feels most comfortable ... executing within.

MediaWorks: How are networks and publishers performing when it comes to integrating online content with offline content? Who is doing the best job?

Mr. MacLean: ABC still leads the way for the networks. But we are still seeing more repurposing of offline content for the web than we'd like. Same brick, different wrapping paper. ... However, we are working with our publisher partners every day to help them be briefed properly on the objectives and success metrics so that they can come to us with smart, integrated proposals -- the duty of care rests with us as well as them to work together to be as educated and forward thinking as possible.

MediaWorks: Search is the biggest online media spend. Do you think money will start shifting anytime soon? If so, where?

Mr. MacLean: Search will continue to garner the most dollars for the time being until bandwidth and functionality allows for a more dynamic, interactive, engaging and actionable online advertising experience that has the "grin" of TV integrated with the "grab" of demand generation -- entertainment and measurable result, be it commerce, lead generation, brand preference, etc.

MediaWorks: Is there too much focus on ROI with online advertising?

Mr. MacLean: There is a tendency with the web or direct mail to look at those very quantitative numbers and not to marry it with the qualitative human side of the story. No one has come up with a metric that's really a dashboard that says OK, here's brand affinity, here's a feeling of warmth towards a brand. This is one of the measures that PHD uses and one of the components of [PHD's proprietary planning tool ETNA [Exploration, Thoughtleader, Neuroplanning, Actionplanning]. That's beginning to toggle together, like measuring whether a brand warm or cold.

MediaWorks: With more budgets and actual dollars moving into online, some people think the 30-second spot may really be in jeopardy. What's your take?

Mr. MacLean: The fragmentation of budget and consumer attention has definitely had an impact. We are seeing a lot of money move to budgets in different forms. Procurement is putting pressure to do more with less, but in being inventive, we are showing our clients that a lot can be done for less. I don't think anybody should be talking about the death of the spot. As long as those blocks exist and are sold, then that's what creators will have to create to.
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