Help Wanted in the C-Suite — Chief Media Officer

June 13, 2016

By Bill Duggan

Now more than ever, corporations need a senior executive to oversee their media investments.

Media is often the largest marketing expense (make that investment) at most companies, and given the increasing complexity and fragmentation of the media environment, the role of chief media officer could provide tremendous value at a critical time.

On the most fundamental level, the chief media officer would drive the media strategy, partner with external agencies and work with third-party suppliers to optimize the media mix (e.g., TV, digital, print) and maximize ROI. He/she would be the centralized internal resource to drive integration and share best practices across internal brand teams and external agencies.

Furthermore, the chief media officer would be the internal subject matter expert on the many important and often complex media issues confronting advertisers today, including:

  • Transparency (see the ANA report, "An Independent Study of Media Transparency in the U.S. Advertising Industry")
  • Media agency contracts
  • Opt-in agreements with media agencies
  • Programmatic buying
  • Content marketing
  • Fraud in digital advertising
  • Viewability in digital advertising
  • Native advertising
  • Sourced traffic /audience extensions
  • Connected TV
  • Addressable TV
  • Influencer marketing
  • Ad blocking

And this list will only grow in the months and years to come.

The chief media officer would be a centralized resource for supplier efficiencies. He/she would work with the legal department to ensure that contracts with agencies are up-to-date and include terms that address evolving challenges and opportunities related to media management. He/she also would be a liaison with client procurement executives as they become increasingly more involved with media.

The chief media officer also could selectively connect with industry organizations including the Alliance for Audited Media (AAM), Media Rating Council (MRC), and Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG). All three organizations work, in different ways, to make the media environment better for our industry, and advertisers could benefit from closer affiliation.

The role of chief media officer should be viewed as a wise investment — not an expense. This position would help drive the efficiency and effectiveness of media spending, and with more efficient and effective spending, positive business outcomes would follow.

Some enlightened organizations already have senior people in media management roles. A review of the roster of the ANA Media Leadership Committee reveals positions such as senior VP-group head of global media and VP-global media. But we've also seen media management positions eliminated at some ANA member companies.

Our friends across the pond at the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ANA's equivalent in the U.K.) have a similar perspective as Debbie Morrison, director of consultancy and best practice, was recently quoted as saying, "Clients need to up their game, get media specialists in-house. In most companies media spend is their second biggest expenditure after capital investment, yet there are so few heads of media client side."

For most companies, there's just too much at risk not to have a senior leader focused exclusively on media. Even small and mid-sized companies could benefit as dollars are more precious at such companies and every dollar invested needs to be maximized.

Given that today's media environment is probably the least complex it will be for the rest of our careers (think about that for a minute!), the position of chief media officer makes perfect sense.

Thanks to Advertising Age for originally publishing this perspective as a guest column

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