I’m given to rail against the state of the world in terms of the overreaction in favor of online marketing methods over print advertising. As with any sea change in the sales end of our industry, there are multiple players (publishers, clients, ad agencies) and plenty of blame to go around. A frequent target for publishers is ad agencies. Part of this is historical, as an agency can stand between the publisher and his/her client. And part of it is structural. Clients squeeze ad agencies, who have to run leaner and often assign inexperienced media buyers to select media.
Today, there are two beefs we have with ad agencies: one is the “RFP due by the end of the day.” The other is “we’re only buying online.” Clearly, there is pressure from clients on both fronts, but the hope is that the ad agencies—who are supposed to be guiding the client’s marketing efforts—would make a greater effort to help stop the insanity.
But I’ve discovered hope recently in the form of two of the most influential high-tech ad agencies, Just Media and Mindshare.
Just Media, in Berkeley, California, has a whole pile of accounts including EMC, the red-hot VMware, Quest, Fujitsu, McAfee, and others. Recently, CEO Dick Reed told me of the battles they are pitching to get these clients to truly embrace integrated marketing—with the print part of the equation being the biggest challenge. It was Dick that told me about ROMO—"Return on Marketing Objective"—and how his agency is using it to convince clients to use print in the mix. Dick also told me about having lunch with Pat McGovern this summer and railing on him about shutting down InfoWorld. A far cry from a 23-year-old media planner plunking numbers into a spreadsheet, this is the kind of involved, opinionated and non-isolationist ad agency we need.
Another agency that gets it is Mindshare, working with IBM. Experienced associate media director Larry Meisel is out on the front lines with publishers, pushing, cajoling and preaching about what IBM needs in print. And he is almost single-handedly keeping the IT newsweeklies alive. (A quick hand-count of 12/17 issues reveals: Computerworld, 21.5 ad pages, 4 from IBM; Network World, 19.5 pages, 6 from IBM; eWeek, 37.5 ad pages, 9 from IBM.)
They are out there. Find those ad agencies that get it. And let’s get them more business.