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Four A's Conference: Madison Avenue Wants New Benchmarks

Madison Avenue is in the process of
redesigning itself and with it the entire ecosystem supporting the nation's
media outlets. How that transformation is occurring is the theme of the
American Association of Advertising Agencies, or The Four A's, annual get
together being held in San Francisco
today, March 1.

The power think-tank has attracted a
range of players from across the media spectrum. Chiefs of three of the biggest
publishing groups delivered a joint presentation on magazines: Ann Moore of
Time Inc.; Jack Griffin at Meredith and Cathleen Black of Hearst. The online
world fielded Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington and Yahoo CEO Carol
Bartz while Comcast COO Steve Burke is due to address the influential crowd
Tuesday, March 2.

But before the media executives got to
make their respective pitches, GroupM North America CEO Marc Goldstein set the
scene explaining the kind of headaches affecting those on the other side of the
desk. Goldstein described a kind of schizophrenia which has taken over at the
client level. He said the disconnect is between brand managers who want the
latest premium opportunities such as branded entertainment and the procurement
officials at their companies want to discuss cut backs. Goldstein called it the
biggest threat to media agencies.

Explaining how the media business is
undergoing radical shifts he said, "We can not be governed by age, sex,
demographic and age, sex, efficiency. We need to make decisions differently,
benchmarks must change."

The good news is that marketers are on
their way to reducing their waste, says Goldstein. He said a primetime show
might have a CPM of $27 on adults aged 25-54 which might rise to $165 with more
specific targets added.  "Now comes
addressability. The promise that through targeting the same primetime spot will
be able to reach only those specific homes and the seller says that's $100.
That's 40% lower.  As a marketer, if my
target CPM is $100, is that high? I might not think so if there's no waste."  Goldstein's conclusion: "As a function of new
technology and new benchmarks, we're reaching the point were none of the money
will be wasted."

The magazine executive's pitch
centered on a new ad campaign to underline areas of growth in magazine
readership and combat an explosion of myths that digital executives purvey
about the print business. However, it appeared tailored for an earlier era,
comparing magazine statistics against TV statistics. Moore presented a slide which stated that People magazine has 43 million readers
compared to the 27 million people who watched the American Idol finale on Fox. Advertisers these days are more
interested in the who, than how many.

Another morning presentation from Jane
Clarke, the head of the cross industry group, the Coalition for Innovative
Media Measurement (CIMM), underscored Goldstein's point about new benchmarks.
As the industry moves beyond linear TV measurement towards a new TV Everywhere
world, CIMM is attempting to get those in the business of providing set-top-box
data to standardize such concepts as dwell time or how long people watch and on
demand video, for instance. The organization is finalizing an entirely new and
evolving lexicon for an industry in flux.

Arianna Huffington did not deliver a
pitch for her particular venture but instead offered a smart and humorous take
on how the media business is changing. According to her statistics, the amount
of content uploaded to YouTube in the past two months is equal to the amount of
content created by the big TV networks since 1948. Self expression is the new
entertainment.  "People spent seven hours
a day watching bad TV.  Now, people want
to be part of the story of their times. They want to participate in small and
big ways, on small and big issues. This is a huge opportunity for advertisers
and marketers. The most engaged consumers are the most loyal ones," Huffington

Chatting with Huffington in a hotel
corridor after the magazine executives presentation, she observed, "It's not a
competition, there's room for everybody." Sadly, it is, and there isn't.