Wake-Up Call: Consumers Want Content on Their Terms

Q&A: Amanda Richman, MediaVest's Director-Digital

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Amanda Richman, 41, is MediaVest USA's new director of digital services, replacing Eric Bader, who is leaving the agency to set up a mobile-marketing practice. As media agencies continue their transition toward integrating digital media planning and buying with more traditional media such as TV and print, MediaWorks is making the rounds to talk to the people charged with making it happen.
Amanda Richman
Amanda Richman Credit: David M. Russell

Before her appointment, Ms. Richman worked as the digital group client director at MediaVest on P&G, where she led the digital strategy for more than 100 P&G brands. Prior to her work at MediaVest, Ms. Richman worked as an executive at Interpublic interactive agency Zentropy Partners (which was folded into MRM Worldwide).

MediaWorks: You worked most recently as digital-group client director for P&G -- what do you think the potential for package-goods marketers, who are known for spending most of their dollars on TV, in the digital space?

Amanda Richman: Package-good marketers are aggressively rethinking digital, not just as a potential for awareness. They are aggressively testing and trying to understand how to be relevant to consumers and what that means when it comes to message formats and the context in which they should place those messages also.

MediaWorks: What networks are doing the best job integrating online content and off?

Ms. Richman: I wouldn't say there is a best yet. There has been a great amount of change in the push for innovation just in the last year, with all the networks trying to better understand what their role is as content creators and as programmers in this on-demand space -- and what that means for where they should lend their focus. We've seen a lot of former competitors now acting as collaborators -- focused on content and the relationship the consumer wants to have with that maybe defined on their own terms instead of a network schedule.

MediaWorks: So many networks are still in experimentation mode?

Ms. Richman: I would call it more active experimentation. We are seeing less of the digital-lab focus that we used to see in the old days where it was behind the locked doors and kept under cloak into real market tests and rolling it out so they can get real feedback in real time and be willing to take some time and publicly fail, but for the greater good of what consumers want.

MediaWorks: Are there any ad networks or portals you find particularly interesting?

Ms. Richman: We've worked with a number of ad networks and there are probably a dozen more sprouting up each day, some with the same inventory, others offering more unique opportunities through targeting, etc. It's no secret that we've collaborated with Broadband Enterprises in the early days to kind of better understand video scale and certainly Ad.com's stronger integration into AOL in the past year has developed a scaled solution that complements their content and audience as well. But the jury's out yet on a shortlist. There is going to be a lot of change in that space.

MediaWorks: Can you think of a campaign MediaVest has done that was truly a successful digital integration?

Ms. Richman: One that builds on successes and continues to innovate and not just treat digital programs as one-offs and move on is the work that we've done for Procter & Gamble on "America's Next Top Model." We are four years into that relationship and what's interesting is it's continued to evolve with each cycle, building form the sponsorship of the show itself to early digital moves into then streaming some of those episodes, making photo galleries, polls available, so early attempts to kind of extend the experience further, then pushing it into actual custom programming that was an exclusive broadband only show airing the day after. It's interesting from the standpoint of taking a property, building equity into it for a brand like Cover Girl, but not treating it as a sponsorship that you move on from. It's about building on that success year after year and continuing to evolve it and tweak it until it becomes much more of a platform than a campaign.

MediaWorks: How is the writers strike affecting budget allocations or content moving online?

Ms. Richman: I can't speak to the budget impact yet, but it's definitely a wake-up call that consumers will find content on their own terms, on their own time, and the writers strike is motivating more of that. It will potentially unleash new opportunities and a great appreciation for what those experiences can be and how networks and other programmers might start to make more of that content available and customize it for their screens.
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