Keep your head down, stay focused and be competitive. That’s the advice of media industry veteran Michael I Roth, Chairman and CEO of Interpublic in this interview on the changing nature of the advertising business.
“Don’t worry about this job, or someone else’s. Keep your head down and success will be recognized,” he says. “Always associate yourself with good people. If you are in an organization that is doing something wrong or has a work ethic you aren’t comfortable with.”
Roth comes to advertising from a non-traditional route. He’s the rare media agency CEO who didn’t cut his teeth on the copy desk or creative department. Instead, he moved into media management from the financial services side. He’s been guiding the shop for ten years now after having worked as a tax lawyer, an insurance executive and as an accountant back in his college days. He started at IPG on the board in 2002 and became CEO three years later.
Even in the short time he’s spent in the ad business, he’s witnessed tremendous change, wrought by the shift to digital, mobile and interactive consumer habits. As consumer attention becomes fractured across screens, the role of the agency morphs. “We are an advice model now. We have tech companies trying to gain market share but they are biased in favor of their platform and their tech. We are paid to advise clients on their best interests. We don’t have a vested interest in where we place media, or where we distirubte. That is the value we bring and the value of an integrated offering that is agnostic but has the expertise to understand the varied technologies.”
Data is fueling much of these changes. Roth has been an outspoken advocate of the need for sharing data freely across borders. As data becomes the “lifeblood” of the marketing economy, it’s vital for information to flow across the Internet, he has said. Earlier this quarter, he spoke about the overall growth of digital and how this sector is on track to exceed the TV ad spend in a few years. Acquisitions in digital and emerging markets are the foundation of IPG’s future growth, he has said.
More change is coming fast on the horizon. “The next five years will be exciting…but they will be very competitive. There are new players in our space and traditional advertising agencies have to change and embrace digital and keep their creativity.”
This is segment is part of Beet.TV’s “Media Revolutionaries,” a 50-part series of interviews with key innovators and leaders in the media, technology and advertising industries, sponsored by Xaxis and Microsoft. Xaxis is a unit of WPP. Roth was interviewed for Beet.TV by David J. Moore, Chairman of Xaxis and President of WPP Digital. The interview took place in January at the Wynnin Las Vegas during the Consumer Electronics Show.