Build Real Partnerships, Not Just Transactions | PRO Insight

Los Angeles is a mecca for creative people and industries. Given this focus, it is imperative that as a market, it is constantly stimulated to promote growth.

Our job in the media business is to use creativity for innovation and evolution. Our brands want to capture consumer attention with something new and unexpected. Brands want big ideas, all of the first-evers, increased innovation — and they want it for every campaign.

This town was not only built on entertainment but helped build some of the largest social platforms. The advertising for Facebook, Snapchat and YouTube are all done in L.A., and these platforms are now a major breeding ground for innovation. Not to mention that San Francisco, the birthplace of tech, is only an hour away by plane. The media industry here must lean into this culture in a way that we have never done before. Otherwise, we will miss out on our opportunities to grow. 

All of us in L.A. (San Francisco and San Diego) are at a point where we must be more open, not just in what we are thinking, but also in the way that we work with other brands, agencies, publishers and tech firms. 

Working Partnerships vs. Transactional Relationships 

Focusing on partnerships will play a big part in our collective success because there are some fundamental questions we need to ask and answer together:

• What are our brands trying to solve for today?
• What are our agencies being challenged with now?
Where are our publishers putting their focus?
• What new technologies will change our industry? 

Imagine the impact to our collective business if we were truly willing to partner with each other: If media publishers and platforms allowed agencies and brands to have input on their product development; if brands were willing to share more about their internal business goals and challenges; and if agencies could be more proactive and solution-orientated instead of reactive. We could all spend time future-proofing our businesses instead of maintaining them.

I know that no one wants to give away their trade secrets, and if your brand is doing well, your inclination is to keep your cards close to your chest. But I also know that we must talk about our collective challenges in the industry with the mindset of thoughtfully pushing the industry forward instead of zealously protecting our assets.

I feel responsible as a leader of an LA agency to help support this effort. That is why this year, I became an advisory board member for NewFronts West. I chose this particular event because it is a new forum with a lot of potential. Conferences tend to be similar, with common themes and overused buzzwords, and tend to confirm what everyone already knows. We need to find a way to make gatherings like this different — and it would be nice to have something a lot more personalized to the LA market as well. 

Wherever we meet this year, whether it is at a conference or in a conference room, I believe that these are our talking points:

How can we build long-term relationships?

Our brands spend a lot of time focusing on how they can influence the culture, and our media needs to reflect that influence as well. Agencies and publishers should be concerned with doing their best work as opposed to thinking about the next short-term spend.

How can we create a precedent for innovation? 

We know that it is about finding new, emerging tech or apps to tie into, or finding a new brand or product that has never worked with an advertiser before. We also know that a lot of buzz is attached to these firsts; and a lot of bragging rights when a brand gets something before anyone else in their vertical. So how can we make this goal a mutually beneficial goal?

How can we keep information available?

OTT publishers are now starting to market themselves as walled gardens in order to keep a firm hold on their first party data. Social channels started the trend and are wielding a lot of media leverage. So what is the downside from a platform perspective? How do we maintain open communication and transparency when the impulse is to put up the walls?

These questions are the beginning of the conversation, and a reminder to bring our collective thoughts to the table. Let’s not forget to be creative, think differently, and find new ways to make connections and stay connected! We get so hyper-focused on today’s dollars and deadlines and nitty gritty details that we don’t remember the power we all have to change the future.

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