Disintermediation Increases in Hard Times

One trend I am noticing more and more as the advertising market sours and budgets decrease are vendors and publishers doing end-runs around agencies and key internal evangelists.
CMO’s and senior marketing managers are grasping for improvements in performance and tactics that can help them ink out any additional value from their current marketing budgets.  This desperation has opened the door for more nimble agencies (recently referred to as “insurgents”) and publishers to offer direct deals and tools that can deliver increases in performance and bottom line revenue.

One of the most aggressive user of disintermediation tactics right now is Google.  While they have claimed to be the partner to agencies, which has traditionally, driven the bulk of their business they are starting to be more aggressive in their direct dealings with companies.
Google is heavily promoting their tools for efficiency, performance and increased value and increasingly becoming a more trusted partner for brands.  Here are some of the ways Google is getting into the boardroom.

Avinash Kaushik Road Show – Avinash is a friend and a brilliant, engaging speaker and writes a valuable blog Occam’s Razor.  I think one of the best investments Google has made was to bring in Avinash and send him around to large companies to tout the value of analytics and digital marketing.  He talks about how to get the most out of your campaign by looking at the data and making changes where they have the most impact – powerful stuff in bad times.  Between his reputation and Google’s aggressiveness, he is getting in front of the most senior executives and making them aware of the opportunities in search and digital marketing.   At the same time they understand the power of digital.

More Free Stuff – in a time of decreasing budgets Google is rolling out more and more free stuff.  This free stuff is getting the attention of executives at all levels of the organization.  Some of our clients have resisted changing analytics vendors but as they see the power of Google Analytics and its wonderful price tag of “free” they are moving mountains to try and get it in place.   This has actually helped many agencies and marketers advance agendas for better analytics, multi-variant testing and increased budgets for search marketing.

Recession Marketing & Missed Opportunity – This is brilliant.  Come and in and show the “Missed Opportunity” they are leaving on the table in multiple forms of marketing.  My firm, Global Strategies pioneered the “Missed Opportunity Matrix” detailed usage is described in Search Engine Marketing Inc.

One of the biggest forms of sales pressure now is the “fear” that they are under spending the competition or leaving vast sums of opportunity on the table.  This is the one that is the most frustrating.  Many companies have cut budgets and us in the inside are trying to get more out of what we spend now but publishers are beating up the clients with how much more they should spend and we are caught in the middle of the frenzy.  We want them to spend more to increase brand, market share and actual sales but they are not willing so having Google, Yahoo and other publishers pressure them

Trend and Opportunity Tools – A recent deployment of Google Trends & Ad Planner has gotten the attention of many marketers.  While this data has been available to agencies for a while they are now aggressively shopping it to Marketing Intelligence and Marketing departments for them to use without having to go to the agency.  The trend tools are great for insights into what people are doing.  I personally thank Google for making this data public and exposing it to the MI teams since they are, in many cases, the key drivers of the Marketing mix and the associates spends.

Executive Stalking, GooglePlex Tours and Resort Conferences – Probably the biggest change I am finding is the stalking and precision interaction with key influencers.  Almost daily I am getting emails from mid –level and senior executives who have been approached directly by sales people offering them a better solution if they work directly with them or drop the current agency.  Again, this is not new but the people doing are often subcontractors, vendors and partners of the current AOR agency.

For my next company I want a GooglePlex and the press that goes with it.  Just an invite to the “Plex” makes even the most seasoned marketer giddy like a child on Christmas morning.  There are a number of vertical events where Google brings a host of MI and Marketing Executives to Google, put them up at the Four Seasons in Palo Alto and introduces to all the power of Google at the “Plex” with great speakers and presentations of tools and the raw power of the Google machine.
I am also getting calls from many of my clients that they have been asked to attend various “summits” and events that are fully funded.  These have been around awhile but with most companies having significant bans on travel this is becoming more and more popular.  Once you get them there you are able to “power sell” them and have direct dialogue without the interruption of agency partners.  The additional quality time on the slopes or links in invaluable.  I foresee these types of events growing.

This post was not to bash Google or complain about the tactics since in most cases their aggressiveness is advancing my agendas with large companies.  I do thank them for allowing me to stay neutral and ride the coat tails.  I do however get upset and may start closing some doors the more they try to bypass my AOR or label me as a barrier to the client’s success.

To be more successful I suggest these sales teams work closer with some of their most loyal evangelists and help them move the greater agenda rather than just trying to badger the client to buy more of something that might not be the best activity for them at this time.   By helping clients and agencies maximize the current spend they will ensure the tactic is successful and generates leads/revenue for the client.  Playing a s team rather than burning bridges in a down economy will result in even stronger bridges when the economy improves.