Spectrum 2007 Show Focuses on Interactive Marketing
Programming includes heavy agency perspective for first time.
Almost 150 graphics communications professionals, agency representatives and the vendors that serve the publishing market, gathered in Tucson this week for the annual Spectrum conference produced by IDEAlliance, the association for publishing technology research and specification advancement. The program was broadened this year to include the agency’s role and the impact interactive marketing is having on the entire supply chain—from creative through asset management and production to distribution.
“For the first time we’re having the agency perspective,” said IDEAlliance president and CEO David Steinhardt. “In prior years it was more of the magazine print production process.”
That agency perspective was the final component needed in the program to achieve a front-to-back view of the supply chain for the print and interactive production process, said Steinhardt. “It gives a better understanding of how requirements upstream in the supply chain affect issues down stream,” he said.
Paul Kurnit, principal of Kurnit Communications, set the stage with his keynote by addressing the state of “advertising 2.0” where marketers are placing the consumer, not the brand, in the center of the marketing equation, and where multiplatform engagement is key. The message, said Kurnit, is the content and it’s a two-way conversation. Advertiser-created content, branded entertainment, and product placement, among other tactics, are enhancing the brand’s interaction with the consumer, who is interacting at levels where they contribute content to the formula as well.
Kurnit noted that engagement with the consumer takes three forms: Passive engagement (traditional media); active engagement (promotion) where the marketer promotes a product in an environment where the consumer can react to it; and interactive engagement, where the audience creates the conversation via user-generated content.
Engagement, Not Eyeballs
Engagement as a marketing goal continued in a panel discussion led by Judy Franks, executive vice president and director of brand behavior at advertising agency Energy BBDO. Franks encouraged both magazine publishers and advertisers to think about engagement metrics over circulation-based metrics as the new measurement for the magazine economy. “Last year the conversation was about eyeballs. And we’re still squabbling over verified circulation, and now we’re squabbling over every single issue,” said Franks, referring to agency demands that magazines present circ guarantees on an issue-by-issue basis. “We need to stop fixating on eyeballs, this medium is one of the last bastions of true engagement,” she said.
Jan Studin, vice president and publisher, Better Homes & Gardens, noted that advertisers should plan their messages for the right context, and that she’s working with agencies farther up stream in the creative process to better help clients tailor the right message. “We’re signing more NDAs so we can get into the DNA of the brand so we can see how the magazine’s assets can help that brand,” she said. “We do over 2,000 ad pages in the course of a year. You really have to communicate a brand’s benefit and the message has to belong in that environment.”
Real World Issues
The event also attempted to address issues from a street-level perspective. “The whole notion here is around best practices in a real setting,” said Steinhardt. To that end, a half-day’s worth of programming was devoted to a presentation of a mock, multichannel project by a fictional agency called “The Spectrum Agency.” JD Michaels, vice president and director of press for BBDO New York, led a series of panels designed to illuminate the challenges agencies face when pulling together sizable multichannel marketing projects. Michaels moderated “in-character” enactments that centered on premedia issues, specifically file management with photographers, asset management and how the interactive, or Web development, component is impacting the entire creative and production process.
Stephen Hart, director of publishing technology at Hearst, addressed the issue of file formats publishers receive from photographers. Hearst, he said, processes over 5 million images a year and what has become problematic with digital photography is the camera raw format. “In the film days photographs always reproduced the same no matter what camera model was used. Now, there’s a different ‘film’ for every model. It’s our issue to telegraph to the photographic community what we want. We’re dealing with images that come in as CMYK with Joe Blow’s profile on it.”
Jamie Anderson, vice president, director of interactive for Energy BBDO, Chicago, pointed out an organizational problem inside agencies that hinders efficient project management and that may also contribute to frustrations publishers have when trying to tie together interactive packages with agency representatives. “The interactive team is brought in a little bit too late and we have a high degree of cross-over capability,” said Anderson, who added that when online, functionality is the brand. The way a site functions is directly related to the brand experience and the exercise to build that is different than what goes into traditional creative. But Anderson noted that tying together the various creative departments for a multiplatform campaign is still difficult for agencies. “There are a myriad of interactive firms out there that can handle the interactive component of a project and that are not part of an agency, which makes it much more complex. Are we the best to do the interactive? Yes, I’d like to argue that. Are we the most efficient? We’re a big ship and it’s hard to turn,” he said.