Verklin, Rutman Square Off During Advertising Debate

Six ad luminaries--including former partners turned rivals David Verklin and Charlie Rutman--debated the path of the ad business in a rapidly changing consumer and technological environment during a New York Times summit on Thursday.

"Media is any way that a brand connects with its customer," said Verklin, CEO of Carat Americas, whose subsequent comments echoed those he delivered a day earlier, when he spoke of a high-tech future for advertising, with Internet search history and viewing habits providing new avenues for the business.

"One of the solutions...is that the media plan of the future probably has a lot more pieces to it, including public relations," Verklin continued. "I think what we're going to see is really mixed--media plans with a large amount of mix to them."

New innovations, such as the explosion of the gaming industry and entertainment/lifestyle components such as TiVo, provide a window of opportunity that the business must figure out how to exploit, speakers said.

"The money follows the consumer, (and) the consumer's willingness to try these new media forms and adopt them pretty quickly has really changed over the last five years," said MPG North America CEO Rutman. "The money is going to move...to less traditional media forms, not because they're tricky, but because of the way consumers are using these new media forms."

Moderator (and Times advertising columnist) Stuart Elliott opined that the whole issue was now one of "no longer being able to chase after consumers...(but) the idea of having consumers come to you," as the speakers explored the issue of how the industry could effectively insinuate itself in new technologies such as gaming to reach its target audience for any given product.

"How can we fit into gaming in a way that doesn't disrupt users?" Verklin asked--adding, with a trace of hyperbole: "The gaming business is bigger than Hollywood, and we need to find a way to put in commercial (content)."

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