David Blecken
Sep 17, 2013

Obsession with measurement misses bigger industry issues

SPIKES ASIA 2013 - A joint presentation by Richard Pinder, chief executive and co-founder of The House Worldwide, and Tom Beckmann, creative director of Swedish PR firm Prime, suggested that advertisers and agencies should reconsider the way in which they create value, rather than becoming carried away with data and analytics at the expense of their core purpose.

Richard Pinder
Richard Pinder

In the first half of the session, Pinder pointed to the pending formation of Publicis Omnicom Group to express his concern that the rise of “maths men” (i.e. people with a focus on procurement and analytics) risks overshadowing the real purpose of the advertising industry, which is to “transform business” through compelling storytelling.

He noted that Google, while having hired creative people, will always be at heart a technology company. In the same way, he said, advertising must remain at its core a creative industry and not become a purely rational one. “The best work is not about measurement, but about inspiration,” he said. “Let’s not let this brilliant business, all those inspirational stories, be subsumed by the idea that measurement is more important.”

Beckmann then built on Pinder’s assertion by explaining that data was not the only concern facing advertising agencies. More pressing, he suggested, is the move of Hollywood talent agencies such as WME (which recently acquired a 49 per cent stake in Droga5) and CAA into the marketing business.


He said the industry would be wrong to look at advertising content in isolation, since it is in fact in competition with all content. “When Hollywood enters the game, you have to be on your toes,” he said.

But in addition to producing content, the advertising industry should also consider different models for solving problems, Beckmann said, noting that one of the biggest topics in discussion at the moment is creating tangible outputs. He drew attention to the ‘three Es’ of enforcement, education and engineering. The industry has always focused on education, but the other two can often be more efficient, he said, adding that it is valuable to “understand how to twist business models in order to compete”: rather than simply producing content, the industry should use its creative resources to develop alternative solutions for clients.

“The role of marketing has changed from getting awareness to create value to creating value that will generate awareness,” he said in summary.

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