Accountability

Media buying agencies haven't been spared the rod either in the quest for ROI, and have more and more variables to try and weigh and assess. No wonder contention continues to rage over how performance is measured and what that performance is worth. Doner's Theresa Treutler says the industry has to find some balance and that means agencies and marketers working together as partners.

Media buying agencies haven’t been spared the rod either in the quest for ROI, and have more and more variables to try and weigh and assess. No wonder contention continues to rage over how performance is measured and what that performance is worth. Doner’s Theresa Treutler says the industry has to find some balance and that means agencies and marketers working together as partners.

Everyone touched by television planning and buying is united in the fundamental destination of making money. From that point on, however, the paths pursued by marketers, agencies, broadcasters, and researchers to reach that goal become disparate. Up until now, the collective ‘we’ have proceeded in a self-absorbed manner, even at the expense of our industry partners with whom we must closely interact.

Instead, shouldn’t agencies and marketers operate as valued partners, agreeing to clear and quantifiable goals and performance measures with related compensation agreements? Accordingly, shouldn’t these two partners share in the responsibility of making the best use of their television commitments? (All too often, we have seen carefully crafted media plans undermined by last-minute revisions and shifts.)

Shouldn’t broadcasters address the alarming combination of shrinking audiences and escalating costs by strengthening their viewer connectivity and reducing out-of-line programming costs? (Surely the solution is not to continue paying whatever L.A. dictates.)

And as for research, we’ve already vented so much frustration with our two data streams, there’s no need to revisit this topic. Instead, let’s re-direct our efforts to securing the richness of data that is commensurate with the absolute cost of this medium.

We’re planning and buying commercial time, so that’s the currency we should be using. We’re planning and buying television to address strategic and tactical needs, so viewer data should be 24-hour and 52-week to support these decisions. (Industry-wide, why would we not support a test of 24-hour/52-week/commercial audience currency that parallels the current database? At least, we would have a tangible starting point on this arguably rocky road.)

If, as an industry, we merely continue down the current path, we will have no one but ourselves to blame for a less profitable future on all fronts. Those marketers that continue to pay the increasingly high cost of television will do so at the expense of other elements of their marketing mix – which was probably better suited to addressing today’s multi-tuned consumer in the first place.

After that, we can expect the ‘chicken-and-egg’ syndrome of weaker business leading to reduced spending. Those broadcasters who continue to expect funding from marketers for untested or exorbitantly priced L.A. product in return for nothing more than possible eyeballs are essentially setting the stage for shrinking television budgets. There are simply more and more choices, even for marketers relying heavily on the television format – new specialty and new private or narrowcast networks to name a few.

So, at the risk of sounding trite, I think that it’s high time that we start dealing with today’s reality and what it augurs for tomorrow. We need to recognize that our individual goals will ultimately be best satisfied when our industry operates in a responsible and accountable manner. I have to believe that all it takes is one successful venture to lead us to the new model built on accountability and collaboration.

Theresa Treutler is SVP, media director at Toronto-based Doner Canada.

Who’s getting it right?

Panasonic. Says Bruce Claassen, president and CEO, Genesis Media: ‘Panasonic [a client] launched a new campaign and used a mechanism whereby they could measure the degree to which they were generating response and reaction from customers, broken out, for instance, by individual TV networks and individual vehicles we were using. There was a substantive difference between audience CPM and actual consumer response.’