Pledge Your Allegiance to Accountability

The presidential transition is complete, and the air of impending change is undeniable. So much has already changed in the last year, from business models and economic policy to corporate responsibility, it’s hard to predict where we could possibly be headed next — but most people seem to agree that it’s strong values that’ll guide us in the right direction. The funny thing is that while people will always tell you they stand for the same things — like equality, prosperity — they’ll always map a completely different path on how to reach these goals.

The discrepancy-laden dynamic of ideals versus reality is relevant to the advertising industry these days, and I think the current economic climate is a good time for us to assert our values — which will not only pull us out of the crunch we’re in, but help us become a new kind of business when things are more prosperous.

And what kind of business am I suggesting? Above all other things, I suggest a more accountable one.

Now more than ever, the call is out for all media partners — whether traditional or emerging, digital or analog — to account for the real experience you deliver for consumers. Team with media agencies on more customized research. Prove your delivery against specific marketer objectives. Work with agencies to use new third-party metrics to discover things we could never prove in numbers — but that we always knew in our guts — about what you deliver.

There’s a reason some sayings or ideas become clichés and it’s because the concept behind them never stops being important. And in our business, one of our most effective solutions for progress keeps coming from one of our most enduring clichés of all: “I know that half of every dollar I’m spending is wasted; the question is which half.” This old quote is reflective of the fact that value never stops being important.

If ongoing client conversations are any indicator, no one is unreasonably panicking in the face of the economy. Marketers and agencies are no strangers to economic cycles and the low points that come as part of the package. While marketers are concerned — and certainly cautious — as they move forward, they still move forward. And they’re moving toward the same things they always have, but with greater urgency. They want to know what they’re getting in exchange for what they’re paying, and then they’re rewarding those media partners who can substantiate what they deliver.

In every medium, we get to the point where we can ask ourselves, “When better data is out there, when we know what a medium is actually delivering, how could we not share it — and why haven’t we shared it already?” Every single media brand will hit this point, when there are no more excuses not to gauge and sell your value proposition using the most accurate, precise measures possible. And as we’ve always suggested, the partners who master selling on a precise basis first will benefit for the lessons they learn in advance of their competitors.

Join your media partners in the spirit of that other enduring value — collaboration — that will make us all the better for having weathered and survived this storm.

Chris Boothe is president and chief activation officer at Starcom USA. He can be reached at

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