ANA Masters Airs Familiar Problems, But Only CMOs Can Solve Them

pritchard-ana-really“We need CMOs to turn up the leadership dial,” Association of National Advertisers CEO Bob Liodice told attendees during his opening keynote at the Masters of Marketing conference Thursday.

Liodice rattled off a litany of problems familiar to the contemporary marketer, including fraud, viewability, privacy, talent shortages and poor creative, that have withered the effectiveness of advertising and given rise to ad blocking.

To reverse the slide, the ANA has set up a new Masters Circle to advance an agenda that includes the creation of a “media business system” and strengthening the marketing talent base (press release).

“Marketers are not sufficiently engaged or leading the industry’s agenda,” he said. “CMOs can no longer let others do the heavy lifting.”

Sympathy For The Agency

Those overburdened “others” include agencies, of course, and, in contrast to some previous ANA conferences, there is a sense here that too much blame for dysfunction in marketing organizations has been placed on agency shoulders.

Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer at Procter & Gamble, is among those saying “enough.”

“The last few years have been admittedly tough on agencies, P&G included, and it’s time to turn the page,” Pritchard said in his own presentation on fighting mediocrity in advertising. “The negative narrative needs to stop, because the people at our agencies are good people that want to do good work to create magic together with all of us.”

verizon-diego-scottiVerizon CMO Diego Scotti echoed the sentiment.

“I hear people blame the agency model saying it’s broken and I understand why people feel this way, but I don’t think the model is broken – that’s a lazy way of thinking about it,” Scotti said.

Scotti chided agencies, specialist shops and consultants for constantly trying to steal each other’s business, but then he reversed himself.

“That’s only partly their faults,” he said. “It’s also the client’s fault, who keeps everybody in constant pitch mode. I cannot realistically put people head-to-head over and over again and then expect them to work together effectively.”

The solution? “Instead of constant open pitches that bring out the worst in people, I establish closed collaborative teams,” he said.

Stepping Up

The ANA’s Liodice also said CMOs should take a more authoritative position to help make sense of all the unaccredited metrics. It was an issue highlighted recently by Facebook’s recent disclosure of a long-standing error in how it measures video engagement.

P&G’s Pritchard echoed Liodice’s call to action.

“Beautiful craft requires time, and we have a problem because we’re spending too much of our time on measurement versus quality. Measurement is not going to make crappy advertising better,” he said. “Our patience has run out. It’s time to insist that all media partners adopt common transparent measurement standards and accept third-party verification.”

Deborah Wahl, US CMO at McDonald’s, drew a connection between the expansion of first-party data use and the need for greater leadership from CMOs on supply chain issues.

By harnessing data from its own channels – app, web, email, Wi-Fi – to build consumer profiles, Wahl said McDonald’s has seen significant performance improvements as much as five times higher than its campaign average.

“But you have to build the whole ecosystem to get it,” she said. “Transparency in the digital media supply chain is going to be critical in the future. [Data collection] guides us to more relevance, value and, ultimately, sales. So that’s how the ecosystem starts creating more value, but it has to change in the way that we act together.”

Photo credit: Clarion Pictures

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