Better Is Better

When CapCities acquired ABC back in the 1980s, CapCities’ CEO was asked about the new organization being bigger and better. As the story goes, the CEO’s reply was a classic. “Bigger isn’t better,” he said. “Better is better.”

I’m especially mindful of that story as I see a rush to digital and watch a wave of consolidation in the media-buying software industry. The media-buying industry is rapidly evolving, and yet many agency systems providers are still struggling to keep legacy reporting systems up to date. 

Even as many media buyers rush to incorporate digital demands into campaigns, their systems often fall short of providing solid core offerings that can organize and manage the entire advertising roster, including traditional. This raises another concern: How can advertising be aligned with the times, if it is supported by old systems?       

Put another way, I see many system providers taking a Band-Aid approach. They want to say they offer digital and claim to understand the new media world, but struggle to find a place for digital in their legacy systems.

Using Excel? Really?

Some agencies have even abandoned systems and moved to Excel. Let’s be honest, Excel isn’t a digital system. There is no reporting, no security and no reliability. Because of this, account executives are incorrectly billing clients and organizing digital purchases because many are still utilizing programs (like Excel) for their buys.

What gets lost in this data shuffle could spell long-term disaster for agencies that are working to stay current with new digital initiatives. It is a huge step back.

Even if you take Excel out of the equation, many system providers are putting digital offerings on top of dated legacy buying/selling software. As technologies change, offering clients an antiquated system that still struggles with targeted, traditional advertising is not a "better." System providers need to truly lead rather than react.

Where Are We Headed?

My call to action is for the industry to truly be better. Meaning, those who are taking this piecemeal approach must start to challenge their systems to adapt with the changing times. 

Agencies need to do a little internal soul-searching and ask, “Am I really using the most up-to-date technologies? Am I accounting for our digital needs, while still not neglecting more traditional media? Does my staff have the proper support tools to efficiently buy digital? Am I giving our clients the best service and product?”

For any agency CEO, the answer to these questions should be “yes," and that’s yes on overall quality in all areas. For the software providers, you have to do more than just shout out: “We’re digital. We’re big. We’ll build it, and you’ll come to us for client needs.” 

Forgive the baby boomer in me for the dated reference, but what was said 25 years ago is still true. Better is better. Period. Just ask your clients.

1 comment about "Better Is Better".
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  1. John Grono from GAP Research, November 25, 2011 at 11:08 p.m.

    Interesting article John.

    While I can't talk about the US system, we do have similar issues here in Australia, with Excel being used as at least part of the planning & buying cycle.

    However, there is an alternative view.

    Online is populated by thousands of publishers with hundreds more popping up every week. Unlike the traditional media, any semblance of some form if standardisation of bookings and IOs is sadly lacking. You would need a team of programmers constantly updating the agency systems to cope with the industry's latest-and-greatest's way of transacting in the long-tail (assuming that they are still trading when the financial system upgrade is complete!).

    So, maybe the industry should have greater focus on transaction standards and compliance to them. Or as my Dad used to say ... don't do it a dozen times, do it once and do it right.

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