Irwin Gotlieb on Media & Tech convergence
Q&A: Irwin Gotlieb, CEO Group MIrwin Gotlieb is one of the media and marketing world’s most influential executives, sitting atop a company that oversees media investment across four agencies with combined projected 2009 billings of $18 billion in the U.S. alone. Gotlieb is at NATPE this week to receive a Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Award.
Q: You’re a regular at the Consumer Electronics Show, what did you see this year that stood out?
A: There is no question that technology and content and media are all converging for benefit of all constituents. Having said that we need to stop from time to time and look at technologies and decide whether they add anything to the narrative.
In the case of 3D it will be good for video gaming; for certain sports and I think for computer rendered animation it’s great. For day to day viewing I just have doubts. People have to sit there in their goggles and the strobing effect is still there.
One of the other things was connected TVs. Intel and Broadcom are all building chips that allow some advanced functionality on TVs, these devices will go into set top boxes and they’ll allow for varying degrees of functionality. The more intelligent set top boxes can manage addressability and targeting. That functionality becomes increasingly valuable from a marketing standpoint.
Q: How will it change how media is measured and bought?
A: Today, I don’t know who’s reading a newspaper I can only model it. In the future if they’re delivered to devices where I can get a back channel on who’s reading what, I can address the advertising, and two people can get two different messages.
I can even connect the dots between what they’re reading and what they watch on TV. Assuming we manage the privacy issues appropriately, we are looking at the kind of paradigm shift that couldn’t be contemplated ten years ago, even though, to be fair our agency had a presentation that predicted this stuff.
Q: So technology is really going to change media and marketing pretty quickly? How soon are the advances going to come?
A: It’s exciting and frustrating. Exciting because all this stuff is right on the horizon and frustrating in that is still on the horizon and there are a lot of business related questions and rules that have to be structured in order for this stuff to begin to pay dividends for clients the media owners, technology companies and ourselves. There are a number of stakeholders. It is going to completely rewrite the book on marketing. The way to target is going to be different, reaching people is going to be different, communication is going to be different, it’s going to be serialized or sequenced across different media types and media can become virtually shelf space.
Q: Will Google and Apple be the main winners as technology advances and gobble up mobile ad firms?
A: In the last 30 years there’s been a dramatic shift of money from media to trade support [for instance, in-store promotions] and I firmly believe that that is going to turn around and as media can prove its ROI [return on investment], the money will begin to flow back and that only spells good things. If the media becomes shelf space, the bricks and mortar shelf space decreases in value. Where was sales growth heaviest this recently ended holiday period? Amazon, et al.
Q: How will big media companies compete?
A: There have been volumes written on this subject, including Ken Auletta’s book “Googled.” I think to me, media starts with an audience and you don’t have an audience unless you have content, technology is the stuff that enables it all. So my view maybe very old fashioned but I think it starts and continues to be about the content.
What they [media companies] do is create mass appeal content and sell those gross ratings points. That mass appeal content is still going to attract large audiences. We can slice those audiences into smaller pieces that are highly targeted and that increases the value. You and your neighbor get different messaging and it creates a monetization opportunity.
Q: What does the media agency of the future look like?
A: For some of us, it’s never changed. You have to start with defining what the function of media is going to be. The last thirty to forty years it’s been about creating broad awareness; in the future it won’t be simply about that, but about initiating and concluding transactions. TV has been mostly about feeding people into the top of the [purchase] funnel, but the advanced targeting that’s going to be available will allow all media to play at the middle and bottom of the funnel and that’s radically different.
Q: What will this year’s upfront look like?
A: We don’t negotiate in the press.