Category Archives: Opinion pieces

PAMCo delivers its “landmark” moment by Raymond Snoddy

 

In any rational world, there should now be a renaissance in sophisticated media planning thanks to the new Audience Measurement for Publishers, writes Raymond SnoddyWith most things it’s all about timing. For three years information technocrats in the engine room of the media and advertising industries have been beavering away to produce a single, trusted, audience measure for readership across print and all electronic devices.And now it has been done.

You could easily get grumpy and say what’s the big deal. Wasn’t it startlingly obvious that such a thing was necessary in the digital age?

As Paul Bainsfair, director general of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising put it in welcoming the new PAMCo Audience Measurement for Publishers, such a thing has been “top of our wish list for many years.”

As a cynical journalist noted 18 months ago, the UK would probably take less time to get out of the EU than publishers to produce their new currency.

In fact the publishers made it first by a long way, and it would be unfair to underestimate both the complexity of getting the data right and the even greater difficulty of persuading the entire British publishing industry to do what they knew they had to do – and then pay for it.

A hard coming they had of it, but they have burst out into a transformed media landscape. When the work began, Facebook was being lauded as the advertising medium of the year.

It now comes to fruition in the time of Cambridge Analytica, and Mark Zuckerberg being hauled before both houses of the US Congress, leaving a trail of fake news, and threats to privacy and brand safety in his wake – and with regulation, or worse, to follow.

The sudden midnight departure of Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of WPP was surely another almost biblical portent of change to come.

Details for no less than 99 publications were published this week and the headlines for the overall audience of publishers, unduplicated across all devices, are dramatic.

The total monthly market reach across all adults is around 90 per cent and the biggest individual contributor is still print ahead of combined phone and tablet.

Perhaps more surprisingly – at least compared with conventional wisdom – the percentage for 15-34-year-olds is even higher, although understandably phone and desktop beat print – but not by as much as you might expect.

It’s been a long time coming but for Aviva’s Jan Gooding, who chairs PAMCo, it is “a landmark moment.”

Despite all the chatter about brand safety, fake news and the need for transparency, until PAMCo replaced NRS the numbers have simply not been adequate.

As a result, in any rational world, there should be a renaissance in sophisticated planning rather than mere trading and the pressing of the social media digital default button.

There should be a “resetting” of the dial as it is now being described, as opposed to the old fashioned swing of the pendulum back in the direction of the established or “proven” media.

There should be but will it actually happen?

That has been the big question lingering over PAMCo since its birth. Everyone agrees that it is essential and everybody wants the new PAMCo figures, which those responsible believe is not only world class, but also the first medium in the UK to offer reliable data across all devices.

It is also a potentially potent weapon in the newly engaged battle against short-termism in the debate over how best to protect and promote brands.

Somehow over the last decade, the short-term ousted long-term brand-building, just as planning was undermined by trading.

The arrival of the PAMCo currency may just turn out to be a significant turning point and if the agencies do not respond, and it would be bizarre if they didn’t, then the marketing directors who pay the bills will have to take action if they can win their own battles with the procurement officers.

And then there is the coincidence of the timing of Sir Martin’s departure.

His approach was understandable if a little unfortunate. In conference after conference he was happy to acknowledge that the pendulum had indeed probably swung too far in favour of digital and against the established media, including newspapers. He also took to complaining in public about the lack of transparency of digital and the social media, the ads that were seen by robots rather than human beings and the time spent actually reading newspapers compared with the seconds of dwell-time on online ads with the sound turned off.

As for the new de-duplicated media currency, Simon Redican, chief executive of PAMCo, has suggested (tongue-in-cheek) that rather like Facebook three years ago the PAMCo measurement should be chosen as the advertising medium of the year.

This is hardly likely to happen. No-one rushes out into the street in praise of the work of JICs.

It could, however, turn out to be a very significant development in strengthening the financial foundations of the established media, and the contribution of the media to democracy and society itself.

Note : This is an edited version of an article that was originally published on Mediatel 19/04/18

 

Lots of mini mergers is the only pathway in today’s world

by Jed Glanvill, published by Media Week 14.05.2014

Enough about the Publicis Omnicom merger failure, it was news that nearly half of media agency staff would leave their employer that grabbed Jed Glanvill’s attention.

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Jed Glanvill: founder of Glanvill&Co

There was a rather depressing but revealing statistic from the Best Companies Ltd founder, Jonathan Austin, last week that a whopping 45 per cent of media agency staff would leave their employer this year if another role came up – and these were the ones brave enough to own up to this in a management survey.

Predictably, POGOFF dominated the news, but I think the Best Company findings are actually more significant and concerning. I also think the stories are related.

One can only guess as to the shenanigans that went on behind closed doors at Publicis and Omnicom, and many have already speculated as to why the marriage was not consummated.

Mergers light the blue touch paper to job insecurity

It struck me from the start that the upside of the merger for employees and clients had never been convincingly articulated – in other words, passing Jonathan Austin’s test of companies needing to exist for something over and above making money.

If you are sat near the bottom of any organisation (not just in adland), any decisions and deals that are done at the top are naturally treated with suspicion.

Is this really about me and my opportunities in the future or actually solely about the interests of those at the top and that of the shareholders now? Talk of a merger, not least with a competitor, lights the blue touch paper to job insecurity and active consideration of other roles.

It may well be that the Best Company results were skewed by all this merger and related consolidation talk, but to brush it aside as so would be naïve.

You can never do enough about culture

The Future of Media talent panel at the 360 conference were impressive in articulating what needs to be –and for good agencies is being – done to attract, keep and motivate the best people.

In my experience you can never do enough, being as it is, much more than simply spending more money and time on these initiatives. It’s more fundamental – it’s about a company’s culture.

There is a pathway to improvement, and forward-looking holding companies are best placed to take it. Of course the realities of life mean that every employee wants to get paid more, but taking that as a given, it takes only a small nudge, for good people at least, to get to what is nearly always causing the itchy feet – how can I learn, progress and develop faster? What could be more positive?

Let’s not be naïve, there are realities of corporate life too. Quoted companies need to grow and make more profit. Some approaches, however, are more rewarding than others.

In our sector, media has driven convergence, and all disciplines have a media angle now. You really can’t talk about one without the other and surely this is where the mergers of today should occur? Not one giant mega-corporate deal, but thousands of everyday mergers of individual minds and skill sets.

This is not to underplay the value of genuine craft skills in all the marketing communications disciplines, but to recognise the sum of the unrestricted parts as being so much more.

A failed mega merger is connected to talent retention

As I say, the holding companies are best placed to crack this new “merger of minds” approach, accepting that real structural and political barriers still exist. So here lies the connection between a failed mega merger and talent retention.

What better way to break these internal barriers down than with a generation of individuals that are free from legacy internal antipathy, via a commitment to real development, training and job swap across all disciplines for all those that are still willing and able to learn?

My guess is that in the future, commercial intra-group structural consolidation will be so much more easily achieved once this cohort of shared experience and trust is established. Not forgetting, most importantly, the product will be so much more relevant and valuable for clients (!) in this media-converged world, whilst giving talent more chances to diversify, learn and progress.

The failed Publicis and Omnicom merger is reported to have lost $200m plus in fees, and so much more no doubt in diverted senior management time.

How much stronger would both groups be now if they could roll back time, ring fence their half of that money and instead have invested it in kick-starting a holding company programme of mini mergers of minds learning and development programme across the globe?

I am sure, as a direct consequence, their respective shares would now be worth staying loyal to for longer.

Jed Glanvill is a former CEO of Mindshare, and founder of glanvill&Co an interim talent management firm operating in the media sector.