Silos make selling Digital OOH at agencies tough: agency CEO

April 18, 2011 by Dave Haynes

Tim Hanlon, CEO of Velociter, a strategy and investment firm that is part of the Interpublic Group empire, was part of a power panel at last week’s Digital OOH forum in New York. The panel was focused on the agency perspective on Digital OOH and what was needed to drive more activity.

While the others talked about the oft-repeated needs for standards, commonality and a better grip on how media is bought and sold, Hanlon took a different point of view. He suggested his industry doesn’t make it easy for an emerging medium.

“It’s not your fault. It’s not your issue. It’s our issue,” said Hanlon.

“The way agencies are structured today are bewildering to most of the sellers and media companies out there,” explained Hanlon. The last decade has seen so much specialization and silo’ing of activities that there’s not a lot of coordination and no plenty of people who raise objections because what’s being pitched doesn’t fit. “I call them Vice Presidents of No.”

Hanlon explained that a digital OOH network going in to see an agency doesn’t typically fit in a particular bucket, so a meeting easily turns into a crowd with a TV person, an out of home person, maybe a digital person. There may even be people from sister agencies, with all new silos.

“So we have made it, somehow, so complicated for anything new, anything multi-disciplinary, or even just two disciplines, to get through,” said Hanlon.

“There’s got to be a better way to do the multi-disciplinary thing. The clients. The way we handle messaging things. You tell me what a digital out of home video experience is. Is it a form of television? In some people’s mindsets it is. Is it a form of digital, in a place-based setting? Other people think it is. Is it a specifically focused thing, like out of home or shopper marketing? It could be.”

“The problem is people on the outside, clients included, there’s a granularity of discipline that is important, but we also have to have sit back and ask, ‘How does this flow across the entire marketing and media communications thing?'”

“Maybe we are guilty of asking, “What’s the media plan?” It may not be media. Maybe it is more experiential or could be promotional. It could be a whole bunch of other things.”

“Maybe that’s where we need to be better,” said Hanlon.

As it now works, a network operator can walk into a meeting excited by the shot at tapping national media dollars, only to get his or her network picked apart and rejected because it’s not a fit for anyone silo and no one wants to own the idea or opportunity and move it forward.

“You go back (to the office) sort of licking your wounds, thinking, “What did I do wrong?” said Hanlon. “You may not have done something wrong.”


Leave a comment