Media mogul

What's left to say about Sunni Boot? The ZenithOptimedia president/CEO has dominated the media director category of our Media Agency of the Year competition over the years and this year walks away with the title for the third consecutive year. She's been lauded, awarded and is highly respected industry wide. So after many a profile, we thought it best to let Sunni do the talking about the future of the media agency.

What’s left to say about Sunni Boot? The ZenithOptimedia president/CEO has dominated the media director category of our Media Agency of the Year competition over the years and this year walks away with the title for the third consecutive year. She’s been lauded, awarded and is highly respected industry wide. So after many a profile, we thought it best to let Sunni do the talking about the future of the media agency.

In the past years, the role of the media agency has changed tremendously. Where to do you think it’s heading?

Media is going to quarterback all strategy initiatives. We’re in the best position to do this, and I say that with complete respect for all of the other disciplines, whose roles will also be elevated, [but] media will take centre stage.

Why?

We’re best placed to understand how targets relate to mediums. We can measure their attendance and their attention. We invest, in fact, in measurement and insights, and I think our discipline spends more in that investment than almost anybody.

So accountability partially explains the position you’re enjoying today?

Totally. But we are also the first window of opportunity for the media. They tend to come to us first. And we’re in the best place to evaluate the offering and enhance it.

Media agencies are the industry darlings but there must be challenges. What are they?

I think agility is an industry challenge. And media management companies are the conduits to the agility as we are the most responsive of any of our clients’ communications partners to the need to constantly change. From a personal perspective, the ability to recognize changes and to be proactive and reactive is truly a competitive edge. I really believe that. It also challenges the traditional buyer/seller relations we have with the media and it challenges the relationship we have with our clients.

For example, media sellers continue to value long-term contracts. They give us discounts. They give us concessions. The reality is that business today requires a far more flexible approach that allows us to move in and out of purchase inventory. That’s going to hugely challenge what we do, but together we need to find [the right] solutions.

And with clients there’s a challenge. They need to recognize that planning is a continuum. If you think of planning in its most rudimentary form, it’s a blocking chart and we still have clients that are frightened to death to change it. I wish it could be done once a year, then I could go home and go bowling, but the media marketplace offers opportunities that aren’t found on the blocking chart. But it doesn’t mean we didn’t plan right, we just need a mind-set that will take advantage of the opportunities.

Any parting words?

We started out chatting about the media agency of the future. But the future is here. We are taking that position. We’re comfortable in it. We’re getting more comfortable in it. We are investing in the right to have that role. We’re building strategic alliances with all of the right companies and we’re stronger than ever with our creative partners.