Online, Measures of Success Are a Moving Target

Q&A: Starcom Digital Activation Director Kelly Twohig

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NEW YORK ( -- As media agencies continue their transition toward integrating digital media planning and buying with traditional media such as TV and print, MediaWorks is making the rounds to talk to the people charged with making it happen. This week, Publicis Groupe's Starcom announced it was promoting Kelly Twohig to senior VP-digital activation director of the agency. She will oversee the agency's digital spending, reporting to Chris Boothe, Starcom's chief activation officer.
Kelly Twohig
Kelly Twohig

Ms. Twohig most recently served as senior VP-strategy director at the agency, managing communications planning across Procter & Gamble's fabric care category. Prior to that, Ms. Twohig spent six years leading acquisition marketing for the U.S. Army and Disney's Parks & Resorts at Publicis sister agency Arc. Here, Ms. Twohig talks with AdAge about some of the pressing issues in digital.

MediaWorks: We just returned from the annual 4A's Media Conference, where one of the biggest topics was how traditional metrics are failing in a digital world -- what's your take?

Kelly Twohig: It's a challenge to everyone across the entire industry. Sometimes I think because there is such a myriad of data, people assume if you have the data, you must be accountable. But it has moved beyond just having the data to understanding it. [Ms. Twohig cites Starcom's work on a study called "Natural Born Clickers," where results called into question the use of click-through rates as a primary source of accountability for Internet display advertising aimed at brand-building.] We don't have a gold standard. It seems it has been more of a client-specific solution for finding a return on investment.

MediaWorks: Another key question raised was the privacy concern that comes along with the type of targeted ads used in the digital space. Is that an issue?

Ms. Twohig: Privacy is obviously paramount to the industry as a whole. It's something we are clearly cognizant of. Obviously consumers are concerned about giving personal information, but they are willing to give up a little bit of personal information if their experience is a little bit better. At the end of the day, consumers know that most of their content is subsidized by advertising. They are willing to give a little info if we as marketers can enhance that experience.

MediaWorks: How well do you think ad formats have been adapted for the web?

Ms. Twohig: We have a ways to go as an industry. In any of the studies I've seen, custom content always beats out content from other vehicles. Consumers are much smarter than that. There is an opportunity there to really create an experience that is more relevant to the consumer.

MediaWorks: How well are networks integrating their online and offline content?

Ms. Twohig: Some are further ahead than others. We've had success with multiple partners, leveraging properties that span both online and offline, [for example] with Kellogg's Earn Your Stripes. [In this campaign for Frosted Flakes, Starcom partnered with ESPN and for a campaign that, among other things, put a kid reporter on TV and created a kids-only hub on] We've been pleased with the opportunities we've been able to pursue.

MediaWorks: What are some of the big issues the industry is facing?

Ms. Twohig: Every day there is a new product offering, a new service that is available, whether in mobile, digital, out of home, so it's really being able to understand what's available in the market and staying ahead of the curve.

MediaWorks: What about talent?

Ms. Twohig: Talent is one of my [main] priorities. We have done a tremendous amount of work to ensure that each and every employee is trained in digital. It's not one of those things you can do once and walk way from. We've also seen the number of digital positions increase over time, and we only anticipate that will continue.
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