A New Frontier for Media Companies and Marketers

Steve Rubel on Digital Communications

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It wasn't the most-talked-about session at the Interactive Advertising Bureau Annual Meeting last week in Phoenix, but it should have been.

In a series of fascinating frames peppered with statistics, Christopher Vollmer from Booz Allen Hamilton laid out how media companies have increased their digital skills and added new services that are winning over marketers. In the process, they're disintermediating agencies -- even as they all downplay it.

Three data points from the joint IAB/Booz Allen Hamilton study are particularly noteworthy:
  • By 2010, 53% of media companies surveyed expect to do more business directly with marketers. The majority of marketers (52%) feel the same about publishers.

  • Only 27% of marketers expect to be doing more business with agencies two years from now.

  • Today, nearly every media company (91%) offers some kind of "agency-like" services. This includes former untouchables such as idea generation (88%) and creative development (79%).
The image of media companies as dinosaurs lumbering toward extinction in a world of infinite content is downright wrong.
Steve Rubel
Photo: JC Bourcart
Steve Rubel is a marketing strategist and blogger. He is senior VP in Edelman's Me2Revolution practice.
They are more in sync with consumers than any other contingency in the marketing ecosystem. Their entire DNA is digital.

Consider, too, the bubbling innovation taking place across the Chinese Wall on the editorial side. Almost every single media brand has embraced a spirit of openness and collaboration that was unheard of a few years ago. New York Times tech-section editors curate and link to relevant posts from the blogosphere. Reporters at BusinessWeek are rewriting 3-year-old cover stories with the help of readers. CNN's new iReport.com solicits contributions from around the world without filters.

The digital rallying cry that started in the executive suite is being executed flawlessly across almost every media business. Digital editors and salespeople are fully integrated with their print/broadcast counterparts. However, the same cannot be said for agencies. During his keynote, Group M CEO Rob Norman outlined how the company just recently completed the process.

Still, Group M can't be blamed, since the clients, too, are behind. The study found that only 26% of marketers believe their organizations are "digitally savvy."
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