Digital-Hungry Marketers Rely on Agency Experts

Whether They Are Overeager Early Adopters or New-Media Newbies, Clients Turn to Pros to Make Ideas Reality

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As the world goes digital, many marketers' eyes are bigger than their stomachs. It's often up to the experts at their agencies to sate this new-media appetite.
Digital evangelist: T.S. Kelly, senior VP-research and insight at Media Contacts
Digital evangelist: T.S. Kelly, senior VP-research and insight at Media Contacts

Even for the well-heeled, part of the problem is the sheer volume of new-media initiatives that marketers covet.

"It's part of the evolution; it's temporary," says Adam Kasper, senior VP-director of digital media for Media Contacts, the interactive unit of Havas-owned media-buying agency MPG, New York. It's temporary thanks to experts, such as Mr. Kasper, who are helping marketers develop their own expertise in the digital realm.

Three types of marketers
Marketers currently fall into three categories: those that have already rejiggered their internal structures to handle digital, those that haven't changed but want to understand more and those that are still stuck in traditional ways, Mr. Kasper says.

"My job is to make sure the folks in charge of the brands know the technology," says T.S. Kelly, senior VP-director of research and insight at Media Contacts. The digital evangelist spends much of his time giving presentations to clients and Havas offices on consumer adoption of new technology, the impact of new media on brand perceptions and advergaming.

Others on the marketer side are taking up the challenge from the get-go, and augmenting their marketing departments is a big step. It can be as straightforward as making a marketer's digital experts aware of other company resources.

Education and digital-marketing link up
When Gordy Abel joined Barclays Global Investors this year as director-digital marketing strategy, one of his first challenges was to forge an internal partnership between the company's education department and the digital-marketing unit. The goal was to give the marketing team access to educational materials, such as video conference calls, to use for new digital-marketing products such as video podcasts.

Barclays, a Media Contacts client, also uses display, video and search ads online, and Mr. Abel says he's evaluating mobile-search opportunities as well as virtual communities for financial advisers. "We are an aggressive brand," he says, "and we feel our marketing needs to reflect that."

Other marketers may also be aggressive, but they're lagging in their digital evolution. That's both an opportunity and a headache for agencies. It's resulting in a period of upheaval for digital-media shops as marketers ask for cool ideas without a clear understanding of how to make them a reality.

Show me the metrics
One way to convince marketers to put more time and resources into digital marketing is to show them how consumers respond to new media. "It's the real metrics that convert them, and it's showing them that every dollar [spent on digital media] brought in this many people to their site and this much in revenue," Mr. Kasper says.

Karen Macumber has such numbers. Her agency, Fulgent Media Group, worked with American Skiing Co. on the digital elements of a campaign for its Killington, Vt., resort. American Skiing wanted to reach its core audience as the resort faced record warm temperatures and the increasing popularity of snowboarding. It chose online video, podcasts and mobile advertising to reach the younger-skewing snowboarding population.

With net media spending of $150,000, American Skiing generated more than 25 million impressions online and 788 direct sales, exceeding the return-on-investment goals for its marketing, says Ms. Macumber, president of the Boston-based media shop.

Fulgent's role went deeper than usual. Ms. Macumber served as a matchmaker by connecting Killington's website with Brightcove. That technology provider allowed the resort's website to feature daily video reports on snow conditions. Providing that video -- visual proof of powder -- was critical, Ms. Macumber says, given recent warm winters.

Wrestling full control
But online video also entails online production. "The largest challenge was not selling the idea of digital but rather getting the content produced," Ms. Macumber says. "So rather than simply buy the media, we had to actually negotiate for full production."

She located a video producer and a podcast creator. The next step was training a Killington staff member to use a content-management system to update the live condition feeds for the digital billboards and banners.

Ms. Macumber placed the content developed for the campaign on regional websites such as, Yahoo Local and; weather sites such as and; and social sites such as Tribal Fusion. The ad outlay also included custom podcasts, mobile rewards distributed on bar coasters and rich-media ads. "[Advertisers] have to change their entire mind-set to say ... 'I am now creating full content,' and that content cannot be straight marketing. ... It's got to be informative entertainment," she says.
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