Starcom's Richman Says Digital Helps Make Buying More Collaborative
By John Consoli -- Broadcasting & Cable, 3/21/2013 10:30:49 AM
Richman says her takeaway after five years in that post was not that digital is going to suddenly dominate the media ad buying landscape, but rather that digital represents change. And she's determined that there needs to be an all-in collaborative effort at Starcom to make sure all the best ideas, regardless of the source, come to the forefront in media buys for clients.
"It's not about digital taking over so much as it is digital is accelerating change in the media business," Richman says. "It is transforming the media business by creating consumer experiences across new platforms. It is less about spending more ad dollars in digital and more about using the overall dollars we spend more creatively in digital and elsewhere."
Richman says she wants to "shift the digital DNA to all buying across all platforms," which, she says, simply means "more collaboration."
"One of the challenges of digital is the sense that there is constant change and learning about what's next. There's so much change that there is a need to get everyone involved at the agency as a team, to motivate everyone to share ideas and be creative together," she says. "I'd rather do it from the bottom up rather than from the top down, to get participation from everyone."
Richman does say that digital has impacted how media agencies buy advertising because so many consumers have changed their viewing habits because of the myriad shifts the digital landscape has brought about.
"Right now, its transformation spurred by consumers and how they are using social media," she says. "It is being transferred from a static business, with TV commercials and banner ads, to a more lively business where consumers can get more involved with brands beyond just watching commercials."
And it's the job of the agencies to get into the heads of consumers, to gather as much data as possible about their interests and what motivates them to buy, and to also find ways that consumers can stay interested in brands over the long haul.
"It's less about enticing them to buy something and more about getting them involved with a brand long-term," she says-and that involvement can include getting consumer input in brand content creation.
Richman is also hoping for a collaborative effort on the part of the broadcast and cable networks in the upfront this year. "The multiplatform monetization is going to continue and data exchange is going to become even more important," she says. "We want to better understand the true value of video content. We hope that in this upfront we can collaborate with the networks rather than sitting on opposite sides of the table."
Richman heaps much praise on both the broadcast and cable networks for the strides they've made in moving content from traditional TV to the digital side.
"The broadcast and cable networks have all stepped up to create a larger online streaming supply and that's a positive thing," she says. "It is not going to hurt TV; it's just going to create more opportunities for the networks. The lines between broadcast and cable really began to blur in the past year as more online video and opportunities came into play for marketers. This year, online video will play an even greater role in the upfront since more consumers are watching it."
That said, Richman offers one bit of advice to the TV networks: "Make sure the content that is created going forward fuels a connection on social media."
While various cable networks have been holding their upfront presentations for media buyers over the past month, the broadcast upfronts, along with those of the Turner cable networks won't happen until mid-May. And the Digital Content NewFronts will be held from April 29-May 3.
The NewFronts were created last year by founding partners Digitas, AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo, YouTube and Hulu as a marketplace to showcase and sell video content and ad opportunities to marketers.
Richman says the NewFronts did affect the broadcast and cable upfront negotiations last year "by showing that there are digital platforms out there with quality content where marketers could put some ad dollars."
And she says there are a growing number of partnerships between networks and digital companies such as ABC with Yahoo and ESPN with Microsoft that can benefit marketers. For the NewFronts to play an important role with marketers, however, they need to be collaborative.
"The companies participating in the NewFronts need to show marketers how to place ad dollars that are complementary to traditional TV, not as replacement dollars."
Along with this, she says, "the TV networks need to continue to look for a wider distribution of their programming through partnerships so that their programming is addressable across all platforms."
So with all the buzz about digital and targeting audiences online, is the mass immediate reach of broadcast television for marketers a thing of the past?
"A marketer can do both," believes Richman. "You can reach the masses with some ad messages and target in a more focused way with others. Marketers should not have a single objective. They can use the mass immediate reach of television as a quick way to get a brand message out there, and then focus on using more data beyond ratings to target. Mass immediate reach of television will still be important, but it's no longer the sole means of reaching consumers."