Amanda Richman is only three months into her new post as
president of investment and activation at Starcom, and she's busy applying some
of the thinking she brought from her previous role as president of digital for
Starcom sibling agency MediaVest.
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
"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
"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
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
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."