Opinions And Ramblings By Adam Kmiec On All Things Media

What I Learned At the iMedia 2009 Scottsdale Summit – Part I

As I’ve talked about it previous posts the iMedia summits are the best collection of forward looking interactive marketers and innovators. I look forward to attending their summits every year. From Saturday December 5 through Wednesday December 9 at the Camelback Inn I got to share ideas, meet some great people, and of course learn a hell of a lot.

The first part of Day 1 was focused on agencies discussing and aggregating the problems we’re seeing in the industry. The group was broken into 4 topical areas. I lead a discussion on “things agencies should be focusing on, but aren’t.” The feedback and input from the group was amazing, somewhat eye opening, and reassuring. I say reassuring, because everyone across the country is having the same problems. It’s not an east coast thing, or a small agency thing, or a digital agency thing. It doesn’t matter where your based on the type of company you work at, we’re all in the same boat. Here’s a high level recap of the situation:

  • Clients are often uninvolved and uneducated. They don’t take the time to learn interactive and then get frustrated when their vision is either unachievable or too costly. On the flip side, agencies rarely spend the right time or take the right approach to educating their clients.
  • We lack consistency in metrics (how and what), process, terminology.
  • Part of the reason interactive agencies generally find themselves in project-based relationships instead of AOR ones is they focus on the next project and don’t make the upfront investment to understand a client’s business, needs, struggles, problems, etc. But, at the same time, most clients don’t see the value in interactive AOR relationships because they view interactive as a “production” or “execution” driven medium…not a strategic one.
  • There’s a HUGE speed/cost Perception Problem. Just because it can be done quickly doesn’t mean it can be done cheaply. A client doesn’t blink at a $1 million TV budget, but would laugh you out of the room if you presented a $1 million web site budget. Funny, in 1999 you could demand $2 million for a site and a client would say, “sure.” Why has this shift happened?
  • Results based compensation is a major opportunity, but requires serious up front alignment on how to measure results. Too many agencies are getting burned because they believe they’ve delivered the performance based on measurement system X, while the client disagrees because of what measurement system Y says.
  • We still have a dearth of strong interactive talent and we often hire to fill the title. It’s better to look at the roles you need and hire slowly.
  • Amazing, but there’s still challenges with data standardization. There’s simply too many data points, too many ways to measure those data points, and noone leading it. This is a major opportunity for someone to make sense of this jumbled mess of spaghetti.
  • “Digital Can’t Be a PS.” This was probably one of my favorite quotes. It’s clear clients aren’t listening to the experts, reading the real data indicating shifts in consumer behavior, and still make digital an add on. I know it’s true, but I still can’t believe it.
  • Data vs. Insights. Agencies provide a lot of data, but very little actionable insights. Providing a spreadsheet with information isn’t good enough.
  • There’s a ugh stigma with the concept of unbillable time. Ubillable doesn’t mean the time you spend isn’t worthwhile. It doesn’t mean the time you spend isn’t actionable or tied to a specific client. All it means is you can’t bill for it yet…but as we focus on cutting down on unbillable time we’re nickel and dim-ing clients and not bringing forward new and innovative ideas.
  • We give away the ideas all the time and someone else undercuts on pricing. How do we make sure we’re being fairly compensated for our ideas? Ultimately aren’t we in the business of ideas?
  • There’s very little leadership in the innovation area. At best we look 6 months out. This seems to tie back to the unbillable time problem and lack of talent.
  • We need a common language to pull from that we use consistently. Is it interactive or digital? Is it CRM or 1 to 1? etc.

I’ll be adding posts as the summit continues.