Are you able to execute cross platform deals?

According to the Bain Study “Building Brands Online”, in the next 3 years, brand marketers will spend close to 40% of their budget on cross-platform campaigns (up from roughly 25%).  That’s about $52,000,000,000 being spent on cross platform campaigns in the near future.  Unless you start making changes in your organization to satisfy this new rise in demand, you won’t get a dime of it.

Let’s explore why.

What do these new demands look like for marketers?                            

A marketer looking for ‘cross-platform’ means they want to use multiple advertising platforms or vehicles to convey an advertising message.  For example, a brand like Nike may want to reach women at home, on the move, during recreation and at work.  To do that, Nike needs a number of options to distribute the advertising message: display media, online video, mobile, social media, TV, outdoor, newspaper and magazines.  And, the list continues to get longer.  For example, in the last 2 months, hundreds of publishers scrambled to build their iPad app, knowing that a decent percent of their audience will flee to the digital magazine version of their product. 

Marketers are starting to require multiple touch points in their campaigns, increasingly digital.  The people who spend the money are aware that digital is an accountable, efficient way to build brand equity and are putting pressure on their marketing departments to become more cross-platform as a result.  They are looking to get a single message to a consumer across different digital and non-digital advertising channels.  In fact, according to the Marketing and Media Ecosystem 2010 Booz & Company analysis, 89% of all marketers are developing ideas that cross media platforms, including digital.        

What can media owners and publishers do to keep up with these demands?

Let’s take a break from the macro-level talk and get into the day to day reality of the situation.  The media buyer that you met at a cocktail party nine months ago calls you up. 

“Hey – long time, how are you?… Great, great…Listen, we are doing this thing for my client and they are trying to reach men between the ages of 18-49 that are interested in buying a car.  And um…they are really trying to do this across multiple outlets…something that covers all the standard online ad units, but something that’s custom too.  So, if you could put together something that’s standard, custom, across video, mobile, online, social, that’s targeted to male car buyers between the age of 18 and 49 that live in the north east, that’d be great.  Oh, wait, I need it by this Friday OK?  Thanks, you’re the best.”

Only 1 type of publisher will get this order- the one who CAN execute.  If you can’t scale, you’ll spend all of your time reacting to these requests and looking for data.  This leaves very little time to sell, brainstorm and get creative. 

Translation – you likely won’t get this deal. 

So, what’s holding publishers back from executing cross-platform campaigns?

1.    Technology and data fragmentation is still a huge problem.  A typical publisher uses 30+ systems to run their business.  The data is fragmented, yet absolutely necessary to access to stay competitive in this new market place.  There’s one ad server for video, one for mobile, and one for display.  If you want to include a TV component or a print component, there’s a whole different set of systems to access to see if the inventory even available, and at what price.  If you plan to offer ad space on an iPad app, well you have that to deal with now too. 

2.    Business resources necessary to complete the RFP or contract oftentimes don’t even sit on the same floor- let alone same office. You may have other sales teams within your company that you may need to consult with to get them on board with your client’s ideas.  They are usually removed from your digital business goals, have not been vested in the process of selling to this client, and have their own agendas in mind. 

3.     Ad operations teams are typecast and segmented by the media they implement.  For many publishers, one team traffics standard and display rich media.  Another team traffics mobile or uses an outsourced mobile ad network.  TV and print production teams don’t even sit in the same office as you.  These are not ideal conditions for selling a cross-platform deal.

What can publishers do about it?

1.    Take a leadership role by getting all of your data in one place for Sales.  Plan for the future.  According to the Ecosystem study mentioned above, 67% of media owners said they need to upgrade their supply chain capabilities in 2010.  Part of this investment translates into having one screen to access your inventory, products and rate cards available for video, mobile, display, social and even TV, radio and newspaper.  This needs to happen, regardless of the number of ad servers or execution systems you may use.  Integrate it all into one central place so at the time of proposal, Sales has all the information they need when they get the call from that media buyer. 

2.    Centralize ad operations teams and production resources.  Fragmented ad operations teams are unable to help sales drive revenue that comes from cross-platform.  While it would be difficult (today) to have the same ad ops team that implements TV also traffic digital, there are steps you can take to move in the right direction.  Get everyone communicating with each other through one platform.  The carrot is integrating their specific ad system into the platform that everyone uses.  This will make them want to be on that platform.  By merging several departments onto one system, new proposals, orders, demands and alerts from a cross-media sales teams would be visible to everyone. 

How do these steps help publishers deliver cross-media campaigns?

By implementing these steps, Sales will be able react quickly to client demands.  They will also have more data to educate buyers and move upstream in the buying process, getting closer to the people holding the budget.  Executives can get a larger share of wallet from existing and new customers.  Ad operations and production resources can become a strategic partner to ad sales teams and help provide a competitive advantage over other publishers competing for the same dollars.

Of course, this is not easily done.  Someone with influence in your company needs to step in and be the VP of Change.  Someone who has power.  Someone that cares about revenue.  That cares about your brand.  Someone that is forward thinking enough to adapt before it’s too late.  If you can get the right people behind you, integration of data becomes easier, centralization of operations starts to fall into place and the company will start to rally towards a common cause- $52,000,000,000.

Editor’s Note: This blog post and photo originally appeared on the Operative Blog.