Today’s media landscape offers marketers an unprecedented array of opportunities to connect and engage with people. With choice, however, comes complexity and the level of media expertise needed by advertisers has never been greater. Much of this is outsourced to media agencies, but marketers need to see this as a shared responsibility.

The 2016 media transparency initiative conducted by the U.S. Association of National Advertisers (ANA) emphasized the need for substantially increased accountability and more disciplined processes client-side. When Ebiquity and FirmDecisions published a set of recommendations for the ANA’s members, we recommended that advertisers should consider appointing a ‘Chief Media Officer’ or equivalent. This individual would serve as a centralized internal resource to oversee media strategy, partner with external providers, provide oversight of the data and technology resources needed, and manage all the contractual relationships necessary in the media ecosystem.

Some advertisers have operated in this way for some time, including Mondelēz. Nick Manning, Ebiquity’s Chief Strategy Officer, talked to Gerry D’Angelo, Director, Media MEU and Global Digital Media Partnerships for Mondelēz, about how the company manages its media affairs.

NM: How does Mondelēz think about media and its role in brand-building?

Gerry D’Angelo: Media is very important to our business and our brands. Traditionally, media was seen as a cost, with the resulting emphasis being on efficiency. But media is now increasingly seen as an investment to drive growth. Adopting a ‘Laws of Growth’ approach, inspired by Ehrenberg-Bass, helped us to adopt this new mindset, as well as embracing different routes to market such as branded content and media monetization.

NM:  What are the main preoccupations for advertisers in today’s media environment?

GD’A: There are some troubling aspects of today’s media environment – in particular the level of complexity driven by ad tech and the straining of relationships between advertisers and media agencies; these are separate but interrelated issues.

Media agencies have become more commercially driven as their importance to the bottom line of holding companies has grown but, in fairness, advertisers also need to acknowledge that they have placed increasing demands on the media agencies. The only way to resolve this tension is by calling out the issues and both parties – advertisers and media agencies – working together to find a solution.

In today’s media environment, the level of complexity driven by ad tech is straining relationships between advertisers and media agencies.

Gerry D’Angelo, Modelēz

NM: How do you decide which external partners to work with given the choices now, for example, in ad tech?

GD’A: There is no perfect solution. Firstly, we must recognize that there are multiple routes to market, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. We have made a real effort to understand each route, and what the constituent parts are. Then we’ve done our best to make informed choices that lead to less complexity, lower costs, and increased accountability. With a clear approach to how we do marketing and – in turn – media, we are well set to evaluate each route based on a set of rigorous KPIs.

NM: How does Mondelēz view the media transparency debate?

GD’A: The best thing about the recent ANA initiative is that media transparency is now being discussed openly, and it’s a healthy debate. Mondelēz is in a good position to deal with this issue because we are a global company with an established playbook for addressing transparency issues. For companies with a narrower, more domestic footprint – companies that are less used to dealing with media transparency issues – it’s a new challenge.

NM: Do you believe that today’s generation of media managers can cope with the multiple demands they face?

GD’A: They have no choice but to cope. If they stand still and do not evolve, they will be overtaken by technology, consumer behavior, and industry disruption. Media is such a major investment for large advertisers that they need the right level of talent and resource to manage it: for example, a ‘Chief Media Officer’ or equivalent who is as dedicated, informed, and expert as, say, sales and retail specialists who are constantly looking at new ways to open up distribution channels.

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