January columns are always ones for waxing on about the year ahead. And, rest assured, I will, but first let me talk a little about the year behind - very little. It sucked. It sucked so much so, that I watched a lot of good people - really good people - get displaced.
Luckily, we at MEDIA mag, and our parent MediaPost, came away virtually unscathed. We didn't let a single person go. But we did tighten our belts, and you may have noticed our reduced midriff in the form of diminished frequency of this very magazine. We didn't make any noise about it, but we went to an every-other-month frequency in 2009, and we're going to get even less frequent in 2010. But in a way, that may be a good thing.
Following this January issue, we are going quarterly. The good news is that the issues will be bigger, and hopefully better. Among other things, we're making the guest editor role that we previously have used for our annual Future of Media Issue a permanent fixture. So each of the upcoming quarterlies will have a special outsider working with us as editor. Some, as Bob Guccione Jr. did for our 2008 Future of Media issue, may play a pretty hands-on editing role (believe me, he did). Others, like 2009 FOM guest editor Alex Bogusky, may play more of a thematic, curatorial role, steering the overall idea behind the issue. In any case, I'm excited about all the possibilities, and possible guest editors. But I only know what I know, and as Bogusky put it this past September, I don't even know what I don't know. What do you know? More specifically, who can you think of who would make an interesting guest editor of MEDIA magazine? I'd love to hear from you about that, and, as always, you can reach me at email@example.com.
Some of the themes we're going to be addressing in the quarters ahead are: screens - how marketers are innovating and changing the way they think about and use media; and, of course, our annual FOM issue will be tied to its namesake forum during Advertising Week in September. Our sister magazine, OMMA, will continue to publish as a monthly. (Apparently there's more demand for print magazines focused primarily on digital media - go figure.)
Meanwhile, you may notice something else that's different about this issue of MEDIA magazine: The inclusion of our annual Agency of the Year awards supplement. And, as you may already know, there's something unusual about those awards, too. For the first time in the six years I've been at MediaPost, we did not pick some unit of Starcom MediaVest Group as our Agency of the Year. Don't get me wrong, SMG was good - really good - in 2009. There were just some organizations that did a better job of delivering on the criteria we use for selecting them: strategic vision, innovation and industry leadership. Read on, and hopefully you'll agree with our rationale for choosing Havas' MPG as Media Agency of the Year, and Interpublic's Mediabrands as Media Agency Holding Company of the Year for 2009, not to mention Publicis' Spark as Media Boutique, and Hulu as Media Supplier of the Year. We did have one repeat again this year. Actually, it was a threepeat that went to Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, for Media Department of the Year.
But the most unusual part of this year's awards probably is our selection for Media Client of the Year, which went not to a conventional marketing organization, but to an array of innovative, but also quite insidious, marketers known as "malvertisers," who have found loopholes in online advertising business practices and technology that have enabled them to propagate in new and alarming ways.
As for 2010, well, anything's got to be better than the year we've left behind. But I think it's going to be better than many people expect. While the macro economy will be the ultimate determinant, I do believe that the media industry is going to help stimulate, not be a drag on its growth.