David Indo
By David Indo
Dec 7, 2016 9:53:00 AM

The Chief Media Officer Challenge


Do you spend more than $20 million a year on advertising? If so, your organization needs internal media expertise to ensure it gets the best value from that investment and best value from your agency partners.

Our opinion is also backed up by the Association of National Advertisers, which earlier this year recommended that advertisers establish a new role, that of the Chief Media Officer.

Such internal expertise would, the ANA argued, help companies not only deal with issues around media transparency but also make them better placed to navigate the increasing complexity of the media landscape.

But a job title isn’t by itself a solution. What matters is how and where they invest in this key media talent and whether their structures will allow them to get the most out of it.

ID Comms recently invited an array of advertiser marketing and procurement experts to discuss the details of this position, at LinkedIn’s London HQ. Attended by senior marketing stakeholders from brands including Unilever, Mars, Lego, Universal Pictures, Disney, Celebrity Cruises, British Gas and Royal Mail, the event heard a panel of media agency, recruitment and client experts broadly welcomed investment in the role.



One of our expert panelists, Lindsay Pattison, Global CEO of Maxus, argued that the recommendation for a media expert was a good thing: “We want clients that totally understand what we do because it makes us quicker, more collaborative and more effective,” she said.

However, others raised concerns about whether it would deliver the benefits that many claimed. Martin Moll, GM, Marketing Communications Europe at Nissan, responsible for all brand strategy and marketing communications across Nissan's European business, said brands had to be clear about where the role sits within their structures. 

The danger, he said, was that it would create another silo and new political battles; as soon there were questions about a campaign it would be another person to pin the blame on, creating a defensive attitude.

Steve Hyde, CEO of 360xec, one of the most respected operators in the world of executive level search, while agreeing that it could be a valuable role, noted that too many companies were simply looking for someone to act as “another cattle prod to jab the agencies’’.

“The senior Media Officer briefs coming through, seem to be adding another layer of accountability control rather than skills that will enable working in conjunction with marketing,” he said.

The good news is that companies recognize much of the rationale behind the drive to appoint a media officer, there are significant barriers to the role fulfilling its potential.

The truth is that any newly appointed media leaders faces a tough task. Not least because many companies have deeply entrenched perceptions of media and the role of media agencies.

At the same time, all too often there’s not enough senior management understanding of the media guardianship role – illustrated by the potential for internal conflict.

The bottom line is that many of those companies now investing in internal media expertise are, in their hearts, still reluctant converts. Too many still see media as a cost more than an investment and still see their agency as a supplier and not as strategic a partner.

Unless the incoming media leader can radically change internal media perception, get quick traction and secure the internal credibility and mandate to use their agencies better and drive more value, the bottom line is that many won’t fulfil the promise that so many expect.

The consensus from our panel and our audience in London was that media is too important not to be properly governed internally by a senior media expert.

The challenge is to create a role that truly promotes media value in its widest possible form. An appointment that simply focuses on media pricing will miss many of the huge opportunities.

What companies really need is an internal champion for the power of media to build better businesses

Download ID Comms 2016 Global Media Training Report

This article was originally published on MediaPost, on 30 November 2016