Klues: Buying Must Escape ‘Commodity’ Label

NEW YORK Starcom MediaVest Group CEO Jack Klues proclaimed today that “buying is the new black,” among the critical services that media agencies provide to their clients. Planning and consumer insights of course remain vital, he said, but “in the future the new art of the deal will require a powerful buying function, able to activate across a full spectrum of opportunities.”

Klues, speaking at the MediaPost Forecast 2006 Conference in New York, held in conjunction with Advertising Week, said it was critical that buying “not continue to be commoditized.” Commodity, he said, applies primarily to the purchase of commercial pods and rating points, which is fine when the bulk of the ads is being bought in the annual spring upfront TV market. “But buying is going to be less about those things and more and more about activation,” said Klues.

“Without buyers, without their scale, and without their flawless execution and creative deal making, all of our remarkable insights and plans will whither,” he said. Scale is crucial not just as a means to get a lower price, but “as a means to deliver new deals. Scale will give us access to current and not-yet-invented content opportunities,” he said. “It will help us secure relationships that get our clients first-mover rights, tailored to their specific challenges and objectives.”

Buying departments need to evolve, he said, to include not just TV but also broadband, Internet, entertainment and other touch points “to keep our clients connected to their consumers.”

Klues also urged agencies to “move your mind-set from counting to context.” The total number of eyeballs reached by advertising is no longer the end game. “Engagement matters. Outcomes matter. Not exposure.”

He also urged agencies not to give away their services. “There really is no such thing as a free lunch,” Klues said. “Our clients demand more, faster, better,” and often want more at no or little additional cost. But all the brainpower and data systems and measurement tools needed to serve clients properly cost money, he said. “We need to get paid like the consultants and communications strategists we are becoming,” he said.

Klues said that media services agencies will survive by mastering the next key consumer touch points. “The ones I find currently worthy,” he said, include “wireless, gaming, search and word of mouth. If you don’t have these practices or capabilities inside your organization, get them. A huge part of the consumer population has already flocked to these touch points, and the trend will only increase.”

Agencies have to set up organizational structures that can “incubate new competencies, expertise and products beyond core brands . . . the future doesn’t stay there very long. It quickly becomes the present. Don’t forget, five years ago IP and entertainment marketing were boutique services. Now they are core,” he said.

Klues also urged agencies to “unleash your youth … there are many talented whippersnappers within your corporate environment, but they are often dismissed as too junior to add value. They consume the way tomorrow’s consumers do. Set them loose inside your walls.”