Your New Microsite Is Not the Next Tarantino Movie

Basics Q&A: Price Efficiency Isn't the Same as Effectiveness

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Media agencies often win accounts partly -- or even largely -- by promising marketers that they can get them better prices than the last agency did. But too many media planners, media buyers and clients mistake price efficiency for effectiveness, according to Gareth Kay, associate partner-chief strategy officer at Goodby Silverstein & Partners.

Gareth Kay
Gareth Kay

You may build a marketing microsite and try to steer consumers there through all kinds of efficiently priced ads, Mr. Kay suggested in our latest Basics Q&A, but too often that doesn't have anything to do with really connecting.

Another piece of advice for media buyers, according to Mr. Kay: There's no time for the "slightly pointless" pursuit of perfection.

Advertising Age: There are still people in advertising who think Goodby is just a creative agency. Why do you think that is ?

Gareth Kay: There are a few agencies that have been around for 20 to 30 years and the work has been a consistently higher quality. Some years have been better than others, but the creative work keeps evolving, and we don't talk much about the process of getting there, so I think that 's why we're seen as just a creative agency. But we actually have media thinking baked into the strategy development, so we have one strategy group that combines brand strategists, also known as account planners, communications strategists, who are media thinkers and research and analytics strategists. We have those teams all work together on client business.

Ad Age : So we know you do media now. Tell us about some unusual ways to solve media problems.

Mr. Kay: The work we did for the launch of the Chevy Sonic was powerful. We needed to launch a car to a new group of people, and they didn't have a connection to it. So we began to think about what this millennial audience likes and is interested in, and they like discovering new things, so we thought about positioning the car as a launch pad to discovery. Rather than just insert the car into commercial space, we launched the car through the internet with banners, and we said after 2.5 million clicks we'll launch the car off a bungee jump. We made the car the content rather than just insert it into content. That drove sales. [Chevy also partnered with indie band OK Go on a popular viral video involving the car.]

Ad Age : How do you measure the effectiveness?

Mr. Kay: Are people talking about it online, engaging with it, spending time with the content, sharing it with friends. But we also have brand tracking in place to understand how people are seeing the car and considering it for their next purchase. And we looked at sales.

Ad Age : What are the biggest mistakes you see happening in media planning/buying/strategy today?

Mr. Kay: The biggest mistake is mistaking efficiency for effectiveness. Rather than think how cheaply you can reach an audience, you need to think about how to make the most interesting experience for that audience. [In advertising we tend to think] think pre-roll and deep online experiences are like the launch of the next Tarantino movie, and we make microsites and we don't realize on average people go to five to six sites. Are you ever going to make your microsite one of those five to six? It's about who is your audience and how do we make stuff that lives where they want to be.

Ad Age : In your presentations you often share this quote from Tina Fey quoting Lorne Michaels: "The show doesn't go on because it's ready. The show goes on because it's 11:30." Tell me what media buyers can take away from this.

Mr. Kay: Speed can be a powerful thing, and forcing yourself to make decisions can be a powerful thing. Because of the internet and the ability to reduce the cost of failure to near zero, you can go out and do stuff and learn from it. So experiment in your marketing and learn from it. Place some little bets. We tend to have this slightly pointless quest for perfection, but the world is a lab, and because of online you can work out what's working and what's not and kill off bets that aren't working and scale up bets that are.

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