Posted by: Burth Helm on April 29, 2008
I’m back. Here are this morning’s notable speeches from the 4A’s Leadership Conference in a nutshell. I’ll start with Google CEO Eric Schmidt.
Eric Schmidt: In short, please don’t fear the Google. He reiterated time and again that Google’s role was to help advertisers and consumers find one another in the digital age, not impinge on ad agencies’ business. Here are excerpts:
“In a way that is similar to what happened in finance in the 1970’s…marketing will go through a similar transition. [Advertising] will be augmented by very very powerful analytical tools…
…Our job is to do a piece of that, we’re not creative, we’re sort of boring. We need to provide those tools figure out a way to get the analytics in and make way for the story-telling and the creativity.”
Schmidt also had some optimistic words for the advertising agencies:
"I think it’s obvious that ad agencies will be growing very fast because there’s so much confusion. This conference is about confusion. We can provide the analytical tools and give you a framework to talk about the choices, but these are choices that are incredibly mission-centric for the advertising agencies...
"...We’re not taking a static industry and automating it, we’re taking an exploding industry and providing a framework for success."
Irwin Gotlieb: If Gotlieb had one charge for the advertising agencies before him, it was for them to create many more versions of ads, tinkered and tailored to specific audiences, specific times of day, and more. In the future, the GroupM CEO predicted, all media will be delivered digitally, the old classifications of "TV" and "Print" will be obsolete, and we'll be able to target messages to the household-level - hence the need for all those ads. Gotlieb, whose company manages more advertising money than anyone else in the world, is a techie's techie, and the speech was a bit dense -- he boiled his vision down to "seven salient points," and each required some unpacking. Afterwards I overheard one audience member say, ”He’s obviously very intelligent. It’s all a little overwhelming.”
Gotlieb's vision of the future of advertising seems very similar to the one vision laid out by Microsoft's Steve Ballmer at an advertising conference last fall. Both companies, not to mention Google, see opportunity in targeting consumers with laser-focused ads. They'll be competitors with very different strengths, and I'm interested how it plays out.
Lee Clow: It's all about media -- where and when and how the consumer interacts with the advertising and the brand. Clow walked the audience through his agency's impressive work for Apple - all the Mac vs. PC spots, the iPod ads, etc., Ian Schafer does a good job covering it on Twitter here. But Clow, who came on stage dressed like a surfer in a brown Adidas t-shirt and faded jeans, said his favorite Apple "ads" are in fact the slick Apple stores themselves. And, he said, he's not a fan of online advertising, either: "I still think online advertising is very nowhere. It’s still intrusive and annoying." He did show some of the Apple online ads, fun work that took over various media sites, like this one, below.