Blog Post

Marketers At AAAA’s Conference Embrace The Era Of Consumer Control

Would any ad industry gathering be complete these days without at least a smattering of attention devoted to user-gen, social networks and ad spending on web versus traditional? It sounds like a smattering was all they got at last week’s American Association of Advertising Agencies Media Conference in Las Vegas. In addition to more detail on the eBay online auction beta, the biggest news was that Microsoft plans to move the lion’s share of its nearly $1 billion ad budget to the web within the next three years. Mich Mathews, SVP of Microsoft’s central marketing group, told the 1,500 attendees that the “Era of Customer Participation” was in full swing and Microsoft is simply following its customers, who are increasingly migrating to the web and an array of nontraditional outlets for information and entertainment, according to Mediapost. Plus, Mathews said, Microsoft is attracted to the potentially helpful accountability data that digital marketing can provide. Despite the possible shift of more than $500 million in U.S. ad spending to the digital realm, she said TV and print will continue to play tactical roles.
However, in preparation for what would be a mass repositioning of ad dollars, Microsoft has allocated 3 percent of its current ad budget for a multi-continent experiment to test a series of emerging media, Mathews said: Mobile and IPTV are being gauged in Europe, interactive and out-of-home in Asia, and the effectiveness of satellite radio and RSS feeds in the U.S.
Echoing the stance, AdAge described the address by Procter & Gamble marketing chief Jim Stengel as “the boldest statement” of the conference when he said agencies should be embracing consumer control, saying the era of “telling and selling” is over.
Both Mathews’ and Stengel’s messages were reinforced at what Adweek said was the “sparsely attended” keynote by AOL vice chairman Ted Leonsis. He amplified those other executives’ comments, saying all content will eventually be free because that’s what consumers have come to expect in this “on-demand” media era.” The steering wheel is in their hands,” he said. “What a consumer wants to be able to do is control the [media] environment.”
Still, Leonsis did strike a contrarian note. He told the audience that he doesn’t agree with industry observers who predict marketer ad budgets will continue their gradual shift to the web. “I believe that what’s going to start to happen is advertisers won’t go from 3 percent, 5 percent or 10 percent increases, but that they will make radical changes.” AdAge has a video of Leonsis’ speech here, while Adweek has a mixture of more than a dozen interviews and speeches available for viewing here. Several webcasts from the conference are also available on the AAAA’s site here.