At NATPE, Irwin Gotlieb Argues Traditional Measurements Should Be Updated

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LAS VEGAS ( -- Can traditional media compete with digital media when it comes to accountability? And how does the industry re-train creative agencies to take their cues from media? Those were the million-dollar questions plaguing panelists during session titled “The $8 Billion Men” at this week’s National Association of Television Producers Association meeting in Las Vegas.
Photo: Scott Gries
Irwin Gotlieb

The men on the panel were actually four men and one woman who head up the largest media-buying agencies, collectively controlling $8 billion in advertising dollars. Participants were Joe Uva, OMD Worldwide CEO; Mike Rosen, chief investment officer of GM Planworks Video Investment Group; Bill Cella, chairman-CEO of Magna Global; Irwin Gotlieb, CEO of Group M; and Peggy Green, president of broadcast and entertainment for Zenith Media USA.

Steals the show
Mr. Gotlieb arguably stole the show with a series of observations that had several audience members remarking afterward the brain behind WPP’s Group M was “on his game.”

“As a community we have been really, really good for several decades at getting tangled up in our underwear and we’ve been able to mitigate progress with remarkable success,” said the Group M chief. “We have technology today to take viewing data out of digital set-top boxes and we’re still dealing with a sample of a few thousand homes from Nielsen. We have incredible volumes of data available, but haven’t figured out a way to aggregate it. We know lots of TV commercials can be enhanced with a response component. We can take traditional media and make it function with the best of the newest of media.

"Everybody’s fighting over rights -- who gets to be the toll collectors, the gatekeeper," he went on to say. "And while we’re slugging it out over those issues, the medium of TV suffers.”

Regarding the upfront
On TV upfront sales, he noted: “When you have a fixed supply you’re not selling, you’re doing yield maximization, you’re trying to monetize your inventory to the maximum. ... [But] today you’ve got a whole different context.”

One of the key issues, which stemmed from a discussion as to how to mix digital and traditional media, was the recurring theme of where marketing ideas are generated –- with the panel, not surprisingly, saying it happens at the media agency, rather than the creative agency.

“We need to encourage the people who are sitting inside the Time Warner and News Corps. of the world to talk more about portfolio management,” said OMD’s Mr. Uva, “[because] until somebody convinces the creative director at the ad agencies what opportunities are in front of them, nothing’s going to change in terms of allocations.”

Re-training, re-learning
“Since when would the creative agency need to react to media?” asked GM Planworks’ Mr. Rosen. “They were always reacting to the marketing plan. They need to be re-trained ... they have to re-learn [from] where they take their cues.”

Mr. Uva pointed out the difficultly of collaboration on the media side when some clients split traditional and digital media among several agencies. “I may have an AOR,” he said, “but [Magna Global’s] Billy [Cella] may have it for another medium, Irwin may have it in another country ...”

“Maybe we should all consolidate,” Mr. Gotlieb interjected. “As a business we’ve been a little slower on this inflection point than others. We had cable specialists for the first two years [of its existence] and then said it ain’t new anymore, roll it in, and we integrated it. That hasn’t happened to the same degree with digital. But it has to.”

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