Denuo's Nick Pahade: I Can't Stand the Phrase ROI

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NEW YORK -- Internet marketing technology is changing rapidly but one thing remains the same, according to CNET Network co-founder/CEO Shelby Bonnie: To succeed, campaigns must be customer driven.

Mr. Bonnie said this June 9 at Adweek Magazines' Digital Marketing Conference. Consumers are interacting with media in unique ways that shift the role of advertisers and broadcasters, he said.

"Yesterday's media experience was very much about one-way communication," he said. "Today, media is about a conversation. It's about self-programming. You as a company don't have as much control."

Instant, portable information is available for all consumers to filter through as they choose.

For example, TiVo lets viewers skip commercials, and mobile Web service provides an instant price check while at the store. IPod downloads have become so mainstream that people can watch or listen to whatever they want, wherever they want. Blogs and social networking sites let users discuss brands and products with no formalized control from the manufacturers.

"Ten years ago, everyone was predicting there would be convergence on the Internet," Mr. Bonnie said. "What we are beginning to see today is actual convergence, and it's being driven by consumers rather than by companies."

To stay relevant to a new generation of media consumers, marketers need to be relevant to the individual as well as package the information through the appropriate digital channel.

"We don't want to put obtrusive brands and ads on unrelated content sites online," said Sean Finnegan, U.S. director of OMD Digital, a unit of OMD Worldwide. "That's been done. They've been doing that in traditional media for 50 years."

Mr. Finnegan was part of a panel on emerging digital technology. Marc Landsberg, president of marketing services firm Arc Worldwide, and Nick Pahade, president of Denuo, were present.

Mr. Landsberg discussed a new collaborative model for doing business. It involved integrating the latest technology with marketing and corporate efforts, all to determine the best strategy around consumer needs.

"There will always be the next technology," he said. "It's our responsibility to put those things into a context. Anticipating the behavior and the needs of the consumer should be forefront."

All panelists acknowledged the risks involved with investing in digital technology, particularly user-generated content like blogs and social networking sites.

"I can't stand the phrase 'ROI,'" Mr. Pahade said. "I don't know what it means, and I don't know how to measure it. It's overused and abused in the world we live in today. We need to convince marketers to take more risks and get comfortable that there may be negative results."

Panelists also spoke to which emerging technology would be most viable in the future. Rather than a particular channel, Mr. Pahade said that the portable quality of any technology would attract consumers.

"Part of the problem is that we think of these things as separate channels," he said. "All of these things touch upon each other and interact. If you think about mobile and gaming, where do you put mobile gaming? In a whole different category? It's not that simple."

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