Edward Montes of Havas Media: How Digital is Failing Marketers

Edward Montes is EVP, Managing Director of Havas Digital US, the interactive network of Havas Media. He develops and leads Media Contacts US and Canada, managing MC staff in New York, Boston, San Francisco, Chicago and Toronto. Prior to Havas Digital, Edward worked at Yahoo! Inc. where he was Director of Special Projects for Yahoo!’s Media, Entertainment, Information, and Finance Groups and the General Manager of Yahoo! Delivers, Yahoo!’s direct marketing advertising product. He’s impatient for change in ad operations and is taking his angst to AdMonsters OPS September 30 in NYC, where’s he’s expected to speak on: When will Online Advertising Evolve?  In advance of the event we asked him about current Havas Digital initiatives and about meeting marketers’ expectations.

Q: What can you tell us about the current initiatives Havas Digital is working on?

Montes: Havas Digital continues to invest in our market leading approach to data driven marketing and to data and analytics generally.  We continue to invest heavily in our Artemis data warehouse and Analytics suite.  Last year we rolled out, to my knowledge, the industry’s only evidence-based attribution tool for both search and display. This year we have focused on increasing the speed and automation of the system.  Further, we have been incorporating both third party tools and data sources into Artemis, creating a single data library for the agency across digital and direct disciplines.

Q: So, it doesn’t sound like, in your opinion, the online advertising industry has met the expectations of brands and marketing. Are we failing marketers?

Montes: I do believe we are failing marketers. Let me de-construct my answer a bit. Has the online industry met the expectation of brands and marketing?  Depends on what brands and what marketers you are talking about and what piece of the online channel you are referring to. Clearly, the online channel can’t be painted with one giant brush stroke as its made up of more and more compelling unique parts, eg. search and display.  I would submit that search has met and exceeded the expectation of many brands and marketers, in particular those most concerned with direct response advertising.  And yet, I would bet that many consumer packaged goods companies would tell you that search has disappointed them or at least become a necessary evil to protect their brand terms and images and as a navigational element to connecting consumers with information about their products or to their websites. If we evaluate display’s relative meeting of expectation, it has probably been a failure. Why?  For a lot of reasons, but some include poor measurement, poor advertising environments, and poor creative. Yet brands and marketers understand that their consumers continue to spend more time online and more time generally consuming content online.  They are clearly interested in placing their brands in the same environments as their consumers so we need to enable them to do so more effectively.

Q: Be specific. What matters to marketers that the industry has not done?

Montes: I think that marketers’ basic expectation is to be able to communicate with their consumers in relevant environments regardless of medium.  I think as you dive deeper into industries, categories and sales cycles, the previous sentence gets refined and compounded but ultimately marketers are trying to create brand awareness, preference, conversion, and loyalty in some way, shape or form.  It’s my opinion that the industry has not done a good enough job of explaining or proving that the online medium can satisfy all of the aforementioned goals and therefore we continue to see relatively small online advertising budgets that are disproportionate to the amount of consumer time spent interacting with online content. We have also failed to easily demonstrate that the online channel is a good method for delivering audience.

Q: How important are targeting capabilities such as behavioral and audience to marketers? Is this the future of media buying, or will context and content still play a role?

Montes: I believe that content, behavioral, and content are linked and that we should not try to separate them. In reality they are all forms of targeting and often rely on content and context. My experience suggests that domain is very significant to the quality of performance of online advertising campaigns.  I believe that there is a tremendous amount of goodness that can be unlocked by using what have become known as “audience buying techniques” in conjunction with premium content and environments.  I do believe that this type of approach is the future of media buying and not a one or the other approach.

Q: Do marketers understand the complexity of the online advertising space as it exists today? Do they need to understand it, or is it the job of the agency to make it easy?

Montes: I don’t like to generalize as to all marketers, but I think that there are some that don’t understand the complexity.  I think that every client needs to be well informed in order to make the best decisions and that the agency’s role is to advise and assist the client in developing those decisions.  The agency should definitely make it easier to understand but they can’t remove the complexity because the channel is complex and requires more technical and quantitative skill than others.

Q: What changes in the online advertising space make you excited about the future? What do you see as the biggest obstacle to online advertising performing at the level it should?

Montes: I am excited that audience based buying is seeing significant speed and that new channels will soon join Display in this area. I am incredibly excited by the amount of video being consumed online and what that might mean for brand advertising.  I think that some of the obstacles include the creative format and the quality of the creative online.  I also believe that another significant obstacle is the oversupply of poor quality advertising environments.

Q: How does the use data fit into your business today? For instance, how are you leveraging data with your Artemis product? Could you give us an example?

 Montes: We have been in the data business for ten years.  In that time we have learned a tremendous amount about the management of data and how to best exploit data for the purposes of  planning and optimization.  A good example of that is our attribution capabilities, which are based on complete actual data sets managed by Artemis — as opposed to projections like some other tools. Our Artemis Attribution Weighting product allows us to accurately credit keywords, search engines and web sites for their contribution in a marketing campaign.  This allows us to avoid both under-optimization and negative optimization and takes us well beyond last click attribution.

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on DIGIDAYDaily.