Interview: Marc Landsberg,

Arc Worldwide president

Arc Worldwide president

Arc Worldwire is marketing agency providing direct, interactive, promotional, and shopper marketing campaigns.

Clients include Procter & Gamble, McDonald's, and The Coca-Cola Company. Landsberg talked with about the mobile marketing space, how much marketers should depend on metrics, and how to balance marketing communication techniques with customer desires.

Q: In the digital age, it seems that there are more measurement tools. Does this hinder or help the process of determining whether a campaign worked or not?

A: Accountability has definitely evolved. There are both more tools and more possibilities to measure results. But there's more noise to make doing so difficult. Also, with more software and tools, there are more privacy issues and [the potential] for consumer immunization against it. Arc approaches accountability more like a practice or discipline. We train our people in it, and use it for every marketing program we've launched. We ask, 'What are the appropriate metrics?' We select the right collection of tools that help us get the right pre- and post-[campaign] measurement. We're treating accountability like a practice, just like we do for digital marketing or direct marketing.

Q: With tools tracking all the mentions of a product or company on the web, do companies still need that human analysis?

A: Well, in the blogosphere, you're measuring hits. Such as: we launched that campaign and got X number of hits. This is nothing new. First, it was how much product in free media and then how many times your product was mentioned in the web. Now there is a new set of tools for blogosphere and monitoring product mentions in the blog. So you need the tools in order to track what's being said in the blogosphere, but you need human tools to prioritize. Google and Yahoo involve, to some extent, human filters. Technology will only go so far. The best it can do is replicate human logic. It's all about context, relevance, and applications.

Q: With such fragmentation of media and communications channels, do you think this environment will give birth to a completely integrated company, or do you think niche agencies will provide specific services?

A: For marketing departments at P&G, Sprint, or GM, it may be too hard for them to identify and take advantage of marketing expertise across the whole spectrum. They [need] an intermediary to track those new technologies, provide context, and put forth campaign[worthy] ideas. The market will continue to fragment and there are natural limitations to [try to] service all of that. So a logical consolidation will happen [and be led] by smart intermediaries. No one marketing services company is going to have every service under their roof. Marketing is making sure every competency is being served for your client [by your agency or in tandem with others]. The real challenge is being on the edge of marketing innovation and putting it into context for your clients. A lot is happening in the social networking software space and the RSS space that [can be] combined with location-aware devices. A big area is promotional offers via mobile phones. Clients like Purina want to hit [those] walking their dog with coupons at the right time. Now, is that mobile marketing, direct marketing, or response marketing? Disciplines begin to blur, so it's more important to [just] create the right context for our clients.

Q: How does PR play into this emerging marketing paradigm?

A: There should always be a PR component to smart marketing. The challenge for the PR industry is that the definition [of PR] is evolving so much. PR used to be about simple unpaid media: the media relations component of marketing was to get a brand written about. That's the traditional definition of PR. Today I can define PR as [being involved with] viral marketing and buzzworthy marketing. It's still about getting the brand, product, or service talked about, but there's a new form of unpaid media. There is this consumer interest PR to write about and create their own iterations of their brands. After all, the blogosphere is just one large PR milieu. It has enabled consumers to create their own content. The speed with which brand messages can now travel is light speed. If that's the definition of PR today, then it's absolutely still important.

Q: What is the next big marketing field?

A: There is a massive wave in the mobile space. Mobile devices will become the total personal communication devices. I'm talking to you on my Treo right now. And I can check my calendar and write e-mails and use instant messenger. Gaming devices like [Sony's] PSP are intelligent devices that can multitask. There [is] a lot of smart technology [that allows] desktop capabilities.

Q: Do you think all marketers will be respectful of privacy and annoyance issues with mobile device marketing?

A: Maybe not in the short run. Privacy will be the next issue. Just because you can reach someone doesn't mean you should. You have to wonder, do all people want the relationship [with a company]? I may want a relationship with a brand, but others may not. It's always about the right level of interaction and content. Marketing is a value exchange where consumer and company give each other comparable value. With the 30-second commercials, the value exchange was the consumer giving up that time for information and entertainment about a product. But you can't get that [product] information in a lot of places. Consumers have more ability to tune you [and your messages] out. Marketers need to identify what that new value exchange is. People don't want spam on their mobile phones. With the more ways we have to reach consumers, we have to make sure we don't [turn them off]. Every marketer wants to build a relationship with its consumers. But sometimes, the best solution might be to make your product available in an obvious place and leave them alone. Maybe, for some people, the best way to interact with your dad is talking to him once a month. Every good marketing equation starts with a target. You have to know what their attitude and mindset is and how you are going to create that value exchange. That's the sweet spot of marketing.

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