#MediaSnack Ep.53: The World’s 50 Best CMOs
Tom Denford was part of the small advisory board that helped identify the world’s marketing leaders alongside Wendy Clark the CEO of DDB and Donovan Neale-May executive director of the CMO Council. Business Insider segmented the world’s marketing leaders into 4 interesting categories; The Connectors, The Rebels, The Integrators and The Storytellers. It is interesting to note the mix of old and new, notably that the CMO’s at Google and Netflix account for the top two positions. ID Comms' highly technical analysis shows that the word ‘media’ appears 25 times across the 50 CMO profiles, whilst the word ‘advertising’ only appears 17 times. Perhaps an indication of the shifting focus of the CMO to take a more pro-active interest in media? What’s certain is that this list tells us the individuals within the world’s most ambitious and exciting brands who will set the narrative for the future of the industry. These are the people who will be raising the importance of getting media right, of making media a priority discipline and they will provide the ambition and vision from which future blueprints of media agencies and vendors will be designed. We need to listen closely to these people in the coming year, what they say will affect us all.
Also in the news this week, a Dominic Mills blog lifts the lid on an apparently highly secretive plan by Dentsu-Aegis Network to launch a digital media buying (or is it audience selling?) platform akin to GroupM’s Xasis, that is a non-disclosed media buying model which would allow advertisers no right to audit media prices. These types of buying methods, which exist in most all of the other agency groups already, are regarded as delivering particularly healthy profit margins by allowing the agency to mark up media inventory in opaque ways. They operate as ‘Principal-based buying’, that is the agency buying and then selling on the media opportunity to the advertiser (see here for more explanation on PBB). The (perfectly valid) argument in support of this approach is that in not disclosing the price paid, that the agency can negotiate lower media prices for the advertiser compared to using a fully transparent model. Some advertisers love this approach, getting more for less always sounds like a good idea. Whilst many other brands can’t tolerate the lack of transparency. Whichever side of this barbed fence you sit, it still begs the question as to why Dentsu-Aegis thought that a ‘cloak-and-dagger’ approach to launching this to US advertisers would serve them well in the long term. These things have a habit of leaking out and it was only a matter of time before questions were raised about the need for secrecy at a time of low trust in media agency digital media operations. We will wait to see if Agyle Advantage - for that is what this secret plan is called - becomes a serious proposition, giving advertisers more choice in the principal based / arbitrage approach to media buying. But it does seem to sit against the underlying trend to offer more transparency, visibility and control to the advertiser. The agency in this case obviously sees a demand (or a tantalising margin) which has driven this new product realease.
There has been a lot of noise (again) on the subject of ’the future media agency model’ - clearly Dentsu-Aegis are betting on success in the more opaque approaches - but it is a perennial question. It is time to ask ourselves, who will actually define the media agency of the future? We have the simple answer, its the Marketers. As we’ve discussed many times before, the blueprint for a media agency will be defined by the marketer, typically based on a narrative and vision set by the CMO. Which is one of the reasons why the Business Insider Top CMOs list is so important. It is their marketing ambition and vision which will determine the role for media, how brands will invest in connecting with customers and therefore what will be required from the media agency landscape. We can already see this taking shape in some pitch briefs for 2017, brands are having a very clear point of view of exactly what media agency resources they need to support and reflect their own internal media management operational structures. Many are following best practice in preparation for media agency pitches by really defining the blueprint for a new agency model and ensuring a well-organised, accountable and transparent process. It is the only way to be a priority pitch in a busy 20176 market and to get the best out of competing agencies.
These are exciting times, by the end of 2017 we will surely look back and see a very different media agency model taking shape, driven by a high volume of pitches which has demanded a different approach of media agencies by marketers with a clear vision for media. This will change the shape and design of the media agency model. It will be the media agencies that are the most agile, forward thinking and want to be open and listen to advertiser needs who will win the biggest in 2017 and beyond.