Wanted: Tinker Bells With Pixel Dust! Part 2

Last week, Part 1 of this series began an analysis of the elements necessary to successfully create cross-platform media programs. This week, “Love is the killer app.”

Sounds like something wild Austin Powers would say, not an answer to a serious business question, right? Yeah Baby! This warm and fuzzy mantra for integrated media may seem somewhat more rational once you’ve read Love Is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends, by Tim Sanders, the latest primer on how the e-generation sanctifies competition and ambition in the enlightened self-interest 21st century.

If you’re cramming to become a savvy cross-platform media planner, a more than quick glance at this Yahoo! Chief Solutions Officer’s take on love in the marketplace might be a good idea. Not real love, but what one might call industrial love. You know, like diamonds. There are diamonds you place on a loved one’s finger and there are diamonds used to cut glass in a factory. We’re referring to the factory kind today.



A good dose of love, real or industrial, would be helpful for traditional and interactive marketing business these days. But comparing your business school professors’ lectures about fairness and goodness in business to real life experience - connecting the dots between perception and reality - is difficult these days.

Yet that‘s exactly what our friend Timmy prescribes. He calls it “bizlove,” suggesting that you can be both a good person and a good businessperson, and shows you exactly how to do it. In other words, it talks about how to think small.

As a cross-platform media planner, thinking small means remembering that every media stakeholder on the agency team has something to contribute to the larger goal. That’s something worth listening to. It’s kind of like expanding your level of hearing to the level of a dog’s. Tinker Bells are special, they are required to “hear” things that others don’t. Their job is to strain to listen.

Most media people I know would love the flexibility of being allowed to think about out-of-the-box solutions, but the current media barn system is not set up to recognize true, original, talent. That’s what a cross-platform planner must listen for. That desire to do good is what he must try to find amid all the defensiveness from overworked yet under-challenged, imagination-starved, linearly-trained media buyers.

It’s easy to blame media buyers for the troubles marketers now find themselves in. But in my opinion, the real culprits within the “modern” advertising agency are account people - the smart, efficient types who stereotyped “media” in the first place. Most account groups also manage the agency, so it’s no surprise that traditional agencies missed Phase 1 of the new media cycle.

To most veteran media people, account people are akin to WD40, a lubricant that cleans, penetrates, protects, and dumbs down most original insights, inputs and media solutions.

Well, perhaps the industry’s account executives will soon learn the lesson automotive business did along time ago. There was a time when Detroit thought that input from assembly-line workers was a waste product of labor, resources and time. It took the Japanese to show them that automotive products were better built when management listened to the rank-and-file assemblyperson carefully.

Here’s something to consider. We’re about to approach the end of the dinosaur age in the agency business. Though the conventional wisdom is betting that bigger is better and the age of large, fat agency holding companies is upon us, that’s what the 50ft. dinosaurs must have thought too, right before the Ice Age.

Friends, if you haven’t noticed, we HAVE entered the Ice Age. And all appearances aside, the big guys are in great danger of dying off. And they too will be frozen out if they can’t hear what the Tinker Bells of this business are listening for. Last week it became evident that bigger is not necessarily better when Omnicom’s value shrank by almost 50% in one week.

In my opinion, the agency business wouldn’t be in such bad shape nor would we would have such a need for qualified cross-platform media planners if account people had done their job right at the dawn of the interactive agency age.

Once account people forfeited being brand stewards to the account planning group, they unwittingly divided and conquered their own authority, splitting it between keeping the brand profitable as an agency account vs. keeping the brand fresh and contemporary.

Interactive media never grew successfully on traditional agency soil because the account management farmers didn’t recognize, care or learn to understand the conditions interactive “plants” needed to grow and mature. Guess what? They still don’t, which is why interactive media will continue to grow un-steadily for the foreseeable future at traditional agencies.

So the tipping point once again falls on the shoulders of the media team, as the translators of the consumer touch points. Only problem is, too few media buyers have bothered to learn about all media besides their core discipline, be it TV, radio, print, outdoor, or interactive.

The irony now is that the role of the cross-platform media planner is much the same as the role of the account manager. If they’re smart, they won’t repeat the same myopic mistakes.

Mr. Sanders suggests that with a little love, you can get the team to work better alongside each other, in a spirit of cooperation. Look at his career. He was in sales at a video-production studio before finding his vision, now publishing content as a management guru. What do you have to say to that, Dr. Evil?

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