The Book of Tens 2010

Book of Tens: Industry Imperatives for 2011

ANA President-CEO Bob Liodice on the Challenges Ahead

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Bob Liodice
Bob Liodice

Self-regulation is the industry's most important and fundamental principle for effective marketing ecosystem management. In 2011, the industry, under the aegis of the National Advertising Review Council, will institute the self-regulatory accountability program for online behavioral advertising. This overarching program, which addresses privacy issues, consumer notification and marketer compliance to industry principles, will be fully activated and operational in early 2011. The success of this program is critical, representing to the Federal Trade Commission, legislators and public-policy activists that the marketing community can address legitimate concerns without encumbering the industry with harmful governmental regulation.

It is time for the industry to get its act together to address this long-standing concern. For years, the marketing community has been sharply criticized for its lack of diversity. Despite a wealth of "diversity programs," there has been no way to demonstrate real progress due to inadequate data, a lack of centralized and coordinated management and inconsistency in the industry's commitment to "solve" real issues. Currently, there is a debate as to what the marketing community can and should do. The industry needs to make a commitment to real, tangible and measurable progress. We have talked about this for too long -- now we must do something that will make a difference

"You can't manage what you can't measure." That quotation is as relevant today as it ever was. Despite increased attention to marketing accountability, the proliferation of media and a dearth of rigorous analytics leave many gasping for guidance, indicators, metrics and measurements. The industry has a number of important initiatives underway. If these initiatives don't make more measurement progress, we will render effective marketing and media decision-making to a patchwork of guesses, estimates and intuition -- an untenable posture.

We must insure that the industry remains free of unnecessary and burdensome advertising taxes. It is crucial for the industry to fend off attacks on tax deductibility and product-specific proposals. In the past two years, the industry has successfully deflected proposals to restrict the deductibility for prescription-drug advertising, fast-food restaurants and certain image advertising. As Congress and state legislators seek to balance budgets and slash deficits, the industry must not let them do so on the backs of the marketing community. The government relations' teams at multiple trade associations are geared up for a bruising battle in 2011.

Despite the posturing by industry leaders, client-agency relationships do not appear to be improving. In fact, they may be deteriorating, as evidenced by roster consolidation (including multicultural), the increased role of procurement departments, agency-compensation issues and strategic concerns about the current "unbundled" state of agency services. All of these are real issues and place additional strains on the client-agency relationship. It is imperative that we make substantial headway on these issues so that we may all get back to the fundamentals of building brands and businesses.

What's the valuation of your brand? Do you know? Probably not. Should you know? Definitely, yes. The role of marketers is to build brands and brand value. Unfortunately, that ends up being lip service rather than the primary focus of brand marketers and agencies. The industry's problem is that it lacks generally accepted brand valuation standards -- rules of the road that would provide guidance for understanding the impact of marketing. In 2011, the Marketing Accountability Standards Board and the ANA will be working jointly to see if much-needed progress can be brought to this highly important area.

The marketing ecosystem has been making great strides towards improving the productivity of the supply chain. By leveraging technology, all players have been able to reduce cycle times, trim costs, reduce labor and simplify tasks. Despite all of this progress, the industry still lacks a common digital asset coding system that would bring unity across the many players and processes in the ecosystem. The industry needs to barrel forward in leveraging Ad ID, its growing coding system, to optimize productivity and squeeze more costs out of production, and improve asset trafficking and tracking.

We could talk all day about this. Suffice it to say that marketers are lining up to leverage the exponential growth of mobile, the growing convergence of the internet and TV. Marketing and media is being turned on its head. It is imperative that marketers and agencies catch up lest they be left in the dust of these very exciting and transforming media opportunities.

The marketing industry has always had a penchant for "doing good things." The work of the Advertising Council and the Partnership for Drug-Free America are examples of how marketing can be leveraged to make a difference in people's lives. But now the industry must be aggressive to insure that the public -- particularly younger people -- have a critical understanding of the value of advertising. The industry has a relatively poor public image which needs to be bolstered via education and responsible programs that restore advertising as a desired career track.

In 2011, it will be time to get this done.

Bob Liodice is the president-CEO of the ANA (Association of National Advertisers). This is the eighth in a series of 10 columns being published in celebration of the ANA's 100th anniversary.
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