Advertising Week 2007

Digital Will Continue to Reshape Media Agencies

Starcom MediaVest CEO: 'Commit to Change'

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NEW YORK ( -- Laura Desmond, CEO, Starcom MediaVest Group-the Americas, sees more digital ad spending in her very near future. By the end of 2008, she predicts digital will be the third-biggest ad expenditure at SMG, behind national and local TV.
Laura Desmond
Laura Desmond Credit: Scott Gries

"There is no right way or wrong way to get on the superhighway of change; you just have to commit," Ms. Desmond said today at The New York Times CEO Summit, part of Advertising Week 2007. "Let's stop talking about it and start doing it," she said.

Continuously evolving
During the panel, moderated by Times advertising columnist Stuart Elliott, CEOs from Initiative, Universal McCann, MindShare, PHD, MPG shared their thoughts on embracing new media, finding new talent, restructuring agencies and finding new ways of compensation.

The role of media agencies will continue to evolve as digital marketing grows in importance. Nick Brien, CEO of Universal McCann, said collaborating with other holding-company partners is an important strategy in that evolution.

PHD CEO Matt Seiler sees media agencies taking on more full-service duties, and Ms. Desmond sees a consumer oriented, digital approach as the driving force behind agency organization. Most panelists said embracing change is the only real way to make progress.

Earning it
"Media agencies won't inherit the future; we have to earn it," said Scott Neslund, CEO of Mindshare.

Charlie Rutman, CEO of MPG North America, said media agencies are facing a talent crunch, as many prospective employees are being wooed away by companies like Google. "I see it as getting tougher and tougher to surround ourselves with a galaxy of stars," Mr. Rutman said.

Many of the panelists agreed that compensation is a big reason for the talent crunch and said that until media agencies are compensated for their intellectual property, it will be a tough problem to fix.
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