IPG At Industry Preview: It’s Not Just About Providing Value, It’s About Proving It

IPG purges its media plans of any ad tech companies that fail to provide value.

“We’ve been talking to all of the ad tech companies we work with to make sure we’re optimizing for the effectiveness of media – and, frankly, if they can’t do that, we look for providers that can,” Michael Roth, chairman and CEO of Interpublic, said Wednesday at AdExchanger’s Industry Preview event in New York.

Viewability is a particular headache.

“It’s kind of frustrating to have to explain to a client that they’re not getting what they paid for,” Roth said.

It’s part of the agency’s role to make life difficult for ad tech companies by insisting that media buys are transparent, accountable and, at the very least, viewable.

But performance-based measurement is also the key to survival for agencies, which are increasingly under pressure to prove their own value.

“We have to be accountable for what we do, and I’m prepared to put skin in the game on that,” Roth said.

Adding value – and proving it – is more important than ever, as platforms such as Facebook and Google blithely disintermediate the agency-advertiser relationship. Or, as put more pointedly by Lou Paskalis, SVP of customer engagement at Bank of America: “The agency model is collapsing.”

But agencies have a phoenix-like capability.

“We’re always talking about the fact that the ad industry is broken and has no future,” Roth said. “But we manage to change, like any other business. We have to be able to transition our business to provide meaningful value to our clients, and there’s no question we’ve done it.”

Over the last few years, IPG has made digital a priority.

“If we don’t have digital capabilities when we talk to clients, we don’t even get a seat at the table,” Roth said.

And it’s also changed its model to provide a more integrated offering that combines creative, media, experiential marketing and PR.

Even so, walled gardens are sucking up more and more incremental digital-media dollars, with Amazon now entering the scene in a big way. The duopoly is becoming a triopoly, and more ad dollars are set to slip behind the garden walls.

But a third player with real breadth and reach is actually a good thing for agencies, Roth said.

When clients have more alternatives, the ecosystem gets more confusing. And when the ecosystem gets more confusing, agencies can step in to help explain and strategize.

“The more the merrier,” Roth said. “Clients should be spending more advertising and marketing dollars, and if we have the ability to prove it – that is how we add value.”

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