Media Buyers: At Long Last, Clients Catch On To Internet
Two thousand and four was the year of clients "getting it," said Sarah Fay, president of Carat Interactive, at the "Panel in Parallel, The State of Interactive: Insiders' Perspective," part one of a two-part panel. For instance, said Fay, Adidas ran the successful "Impossible is Nothing" campaign, which generated 2.5 million downloads and more than 5,000 "fan letters" e-mailed by customers to the company. The result of the online initiative: the company told Carat it would increase its online advertising budget for 2005.
But, while Fay said signs pointed to the positive, others offered a more temperate assessment. Universal McCann Interactive's Senior Vice President and Interactive Media Director David Cohen said that only some major clients might open their budgets next year. "In aggregate, 2005 budgets are probably flat," he said.
Still, he said, he's optimistic overall. "Two thousand and four could be characterized as a good year," he said. "Two thousand and five is shaping up to be a very, very good year--2005 is shaping up to be the year for interactive advertising."
He added that year-over-year growth could reach 20-plus percent. But, he said, most of the interactive money will be spent by the largest clients--those with ad budgets of more than $400 million.
A marketer on the panel--Procter & Gamble Co. Section Manager, Interactive Marketing, Global Beauty Business Unit, John Stichweh--said the company will likely spend a higher proportion of its budget on interactive ads, but emphasized that interactive marketers were starting from such a low base that big increases are not that significant.
Stichweh declined to comment in-depth on P&G's plans for the year, but said the company shifted its media planning goal toward establishing the appropriate mix for integrated and cross-media marketing initiatives. The change reflects the recent appointment of Carat North America and Starcom MediaVest Group as the media planning agencies for P&G's massive account in July of this year.
Another marketer on the panel--Jens Thraenhart, director of Internet strategy for Fairmont Hotels and Resorts--equivocated about whether his company intended to spend more in 2005. He said the company hoped to use its marketing budget more "efficiently," adding that 2003 was "a very difficult year for the travel and hotel industry." But, he said, the company didn't necessarily intend to buy a huge amount of advertising. "The vaults are definitely not open," he said.
Cohen noted that Universal McCann is beginning to look at accounts from a more media-agnostic perspective, and that interactive may be taking marginal shares away from TV and print budgets.