The New Wizards of Digital Marketing: An IAB Agency Summit Wrap-Up

Attendees took one central theme away from The New Wizards of Digital Marketing: An IAB Agency Summit on November 10: COLLABORATION is imperative for success. As he opened the day, Randall Rothenberg, President and CEO of the IAB, described “pain points” that have been recently echoing throughout the industry. “We’ve heard over the past few years, ‘those other guys don’t know how to do it,’—well this event is all about putting you all on the same page,” he explained. “This event is all about the ideas.”

David Doty, Senior Vice President, Thought Leadership and Marketing at the IAB, injected some fear into the room with the November 5, 3-Minute AdAge Video highlighting Chris Vollmer’s presentation at the ANA CMO Roundtable Lunch which was sponsored by the IAB. During the segment Vollmer, VP at Booz & Company, emphasizes the shifting relationships and power of media companies as they relate to brand / agency partnerships. Watch the clip here.

Agency Summit Playlist

The first panel of the morning focused on behind-the-scenes relationships that play a crucial role in the launch of any campaign—in this case specifically, the recent All-New Dodge Ram truck launch. Introduced to the marketplace during one the of the most challenging economic times ever, with gas prices soaring, a credit crisis looming and home values dropping, Chrysler knew it was game on. Led by Deborah Meyer, VP and CMO of Chrysler, who was also moderating the panel, the team developed a ground-breaking cross-platform campaign that targeted specific audience segments with messages unique to their needs, showcasing the truck features that met those needs. It was no easy task—with input, ideas and cooperation needed by brand, media company, ad agency of record, digital agency and others. Onstage campaign developers shared how the big idea quickly evolved into reality-based webisodes featuring a real-world heroes challenge that transcended across the internet—delivering the All-New Dodge Ram as the star of the show. From the initial thoughts of “this will never happen, it’s too big and too quick” to the 90 percent online video completion metrics and 12-minute average site visit, the team and their external partners worked together every step of the way to create awareness and drive shopping behaviors in the dealerships. They proved that collaboration drove the success, as the expertise of each player greatly impacted the final product.

The conversation segued right into idea ownership, or lack thereof, as panelist representing various segments of the ecosystem explored how one idea evolves into an in-depth campaign that wouldn’t be possible without input from multiple digital wizards. Execution is just as important as idea development or origination, and that first “big idea” frequently evolves into something that looks and feels significantly different than originally conceptualized. It wouldn’t be possible without input from specialized areas. Similarities and differences between “vendor” and “partner” relationships were also discussed.

This shifting structure of cross-platform campaigns is driving internal organization changes within ad agencies. Barry Wacksman, Executive Vice President, Chief Growth Officer, R/GA, detailed how their teams have deviated from the traditional agency model of copywriting, art direction and media overseen by account management into a multi-tier, 360 degree approach, with each group somewhat competing for their own little piece of the business. A “digital studio” production segment now overlays every account, along with a new level of involvement from the client. “It’s not always about creating messages. It’s about creating applications now—useful things people will use each day,” said Wacksman. He cited the firm’s work with Nike+ and Nokia viNe as prime examples.

Next, two MIXX Award Gold winning campaigns received some well-earned extra stage time as their creators talked through each step of the process. These wizards at work, showing off the Nissan Rogue Launch and the Adobe Layer Tennis campaigns, each presented their case study to provide a detailed look at how the pieces evolved into successful campaigns.

“Make my campaign viral!” Most agencies have heard that from a client, but it’s not that easy. Bryan Wiener, Chief Executive Officer of 360i, describes user-generated content like the movie business because it’s all about anticipating what people will like. An agency can’t guarantee anything will “go viral,” but there are clear steps that can be taken to position something for success. Sarah Hofstetter, Vice President, Emerging Media and Client Strategy for 360i, provided a comprehensive plan of attack for viral success that includes establishing success metrics before the campaign goes live, listening to what your audience is saying and noticing where they are saying it, then adapting your execution to that platform.

What does size say about an agency? Not what a client may expect. The final session of the day featured executives from various sized agencies detailing how their growth, or intentional lack of growth, has shaped their client base and the brand they’ve build around the organization. From Marlene Root, VP and Director of Quality of Life at Crispin Porter + Bogusky, who is charged with helping employees understand the culture of the growing firm to Michael Ferdman, President and Co-founder of Firstborn, whose prospects are sometime shocked to learn the agency’s work is produced by only a 45-member staff, panelists agreed that size and structure don’t necessarily define quality of work or the partnership preference of the client.

According to the day’s presenters, brand and agency collaboration is still going strong regardless of recent industry conversation surrounding agency disintermediation. As campaigns continue to cross platforms and audiences agencies play a vital role in management and execution—depending on their brand and media company partners to rally together, producing world-class results.