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Volume 21 No. 39
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The Sit-Down: Chad Stoller, UM Worldwide

The agency executive says that successful organizations are those that can stay nimble and adapt to the changing habits of today’s consumers.

It’s all mobile, and we have too many devices, we have too much content. We have all these things, and there’s one thing we’re not getting more of and that’s time.

Let’s say somebody sits down and watches a football game. Somebody watches a hockey game, baseball game, etc. There’s only so much time or so much content competing for their attention. So what’s happening is that we’re losing that linear continual connection between a broadcast of a game, a live experience. And then what is competing for that attention?

I’m a season-ticket holder for the Rangers. … When I look at children, 14 to 18, teens, even younger, they’re decked out head-to-toe in gear. They love this team. They know everything about it. Big fans. They’re not watching the game. … But you know what gets their attention? A goal. Because they’ve got to be the first one to share it. And to me, that’s something completely different. Because now it’s all about, are they going to the game to watch the game or are they going to the game to get currency?

The fact is that people know more about sports than they ever did before. And leagues are the ones being successful in terms of really trying to teach people or give content away to kind of satiate that appetite for learning a little bit more. More behind the scenes, I think MLB does a very good job with their draft. I don’t know if anybody watches it, but it’s a terrific example.

We’re moving toward these six-second spots … and we think that’s very interesting. We see it in sports and also see it in network television, like “Walking Dead” just introduced that as a format as well.

We’re getting our clients to understand it. As most clients will say, “You want me to pay the same amount of money that I was paying but I’m only getting one-fifth of the length?” But then we talk about, well, it’s premium positioning. … We explain to them that we need to be where the attention is.

There’s a lot of CMOs that have realized that if they don’t change the culture of the company, they’re going to be out.

I’m very bullish on over-the-top advertising. I think that there’s something very special about that. What I love about OTT is that it is delivered digitally, which means by nature it’s an interactive format. So ads can start becoming more interactive.

I always go back to the music industry when the music industry held on for so long until it fell apart. Right? It wasn’t Napster that killed the music business. It was selling full-length albums that killed the music business. It was the music business’ own problem. And iTunes came over and said basically, “Hey, guys! If you want to survive on the internet, you’ve got to break up your albums and you’re going to sell them this way and then you’re going to do this.” And that worked.

And what happens is, now the music business realizes, well, we used to make this much, we used to make all of our money from selling records. Now we make this much money from selling records, but now we’re selling experiences, we’re getting into concerts, we’re doing this, we’re doing that. Maybe they don’t make as much money as they used to. But their organizations have changed where they’re nimble, they’re more entrepreneurial and they can look for the next revenue streams.

What happens in sports is everyone still looks for, “Gotta sell my broadcast rights. I gotta sell my league sponsorship rights, and I gotta work with my teams and do this.” But the fact is that if the audience is completely changing, then you have to figure out how those silos, I don’t know, flip a little bit. And what are the new ones?

My job is to just look at what these companies are that are trying to do these disruptions.

I just love Geico. I think Geico just kills it. I think Geico kills it in every format that they do it in. Because Geico knows how to show up where the attention is and they know how to deliver a good, meaningful experience without trying too hard.