Marketers have always rued their inability to measure the exact return on investment made in advertising, but now they are raising questions over the industry’s ability to deliver. In an interview with Campaign,Hamish McLennan, Global CEO, Young and Rubicam, shares his views on increasing pressure from clients and the changing business environment.
There had always been an undercurrent of disgruntlement between advertising agencies and their clients, but it was never as pronounced as it has been in recent times. What is the reason for this?
The reality is that advertising is not a perfect science. It never was. Had it been, everyone would be getting a perfect score. There is more pressure on advertising agencies to prove that their work delivers and it is a healthy pressure but at the same time, I would like to open up a question to marketers: If you cannot prove that advertising delivers, how do you deduce that it doesn’t? Nevertheless, we have been making efforts to bring in some semblance of accountability in the work we do. For instance, the relaunch of our proprietary tool, Brand Energy Valuation, which has been developed in association with senior professors of Columbia University, helps in linking marketing communications with sales.
As for the reasons for the heightened discord between clients and agencies, I think it is linked to the common anxiety regarding the ever-changing media landscape. Everyone seems a little perplexed about the use of new media .
Who does the responsibility to understand new media rest with?
It is a common responsibility. It is an unfair criticism to level against agencies that they don’t understand it; the fact of the matter is that nobody does. Traditional ways of communicating with consumers have changed. Today, there are many and diverse consumer touch points and nobody yet has quite understood how to use them.
Is proliferation of media good or bad?
Since nobody has a control over it, it better be good. It also means that customer activation cost goes up. The industry needs to invest more in understanding the nature of these mediums and the way consumers use them.
Are marketers ready to spend more?
That’s probably where the discord lies. The industry needs more investment to understand new technology and its use in effective marketing communication, but whether clients are ready to bear these costs is a question that needs an answer.
Are digital media and consumer-generated content a challenge or an opportunity for marketers?
The new technology and the way it is being used by consumers only means that building and protecting brand image and equity is no more only an advertising function. Marketers will have to be absolutely responsible for all their actions. BP and Wal-Mart are two examples of how great brands can take a beating if they fail on internal deliveries such as corporate governance or employee satisfaction. Today, consumers can find out the real you and broadcast it to the world at the click of a mouse.