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Bob Siegal

Bob Siegal




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Trendsetter: KPMG's Bob Siegal Outlines Critical C-Suite Thinking on Programmatic Issues

As the Cannes Ad Festival approaches this weekend, many conversations along the Croisette will no doubt be about the billions of advertiser dollars affected by the current flood of media reviews, as well as how the changes brought about by digital media are shaping some of these decisions.

As part of these considerations, KPMG's Bob Siegal raises a larger issue affected by his and colleagues on-going conversations with CFOs and other C-Suite executives at some of the world's largest advertisers. Based on their reactions to headlines about viewability, ad fraud and transparency, he predicts that advertisers will either insist on receiving greater transparency or programmatic buying will increasingly shift to in-house operations within marketer organizations. He sees a new concern among corporate management as they grapple--often for the first time-- with the complexities and possible legalities of programmatic buying as it relates to both company policy and the very definition of the role of an agency.

Although such comments may initially sound audacious, Bob raises critical issues about the marketing function within the corporation and the potential ill effects of partial understanding or even misperceptions on the part of top corporate management. He sees more corporate financial and compliance interest and involvement in marketing now than ever before.

Bob Siegal is a Director in KPMG's Marketing, Media and Promotions Contract Compliance Services group and also serves as an SMP for marketing, media and content operations. He has more than 25 years of management advisory and business operations background, as well as substantial experience in leading and coordinating marketing and media advisory activities across many industries.

He speaks matter-of-factly about the perception of marketing's role with the corporation. "Management has traditionally agreed that marketing is best left alone to work its magic. As long as they stick to their budgets and correlate how they affect perceptions and positively impact results, they are doing their jobs. However, times have changed. Management is increasingly astonished by what they're reading today, and now believe they need to understand more to act appropriately as a public company."

In terms of the issues surrounding programmatic buying, digital trading desks and the potential agency reselling of inventory, Bob shares the following analogy: "One CFO suggested that for him, the dilemma was similar to the due diligence involved in buying land for a company facility. The company retains a broker who recommends a parcel in which the broker maintains an ownership stake. We would have issues if the broker didn't disclose that information up front, and even if he did, you may choose--based on certain corporate guidelines--not to work with him."

So what's the solution? Bob jokes, "If I were younger and had the wherewithal, I'd consider opening an agency and call it Transparent Media. I'd say, ‘Yes, we mark it up the digital media we buy for you. Here's how much.' I never met a client who didn't expect their agency to make money for the services provided."

On a more serious note, though, Bob Siegal strongly advocates that procurement, legal, finance and marketing spend time discussing these issues. He also feels that key top corporate executives will need some intensive education on these marketing issues--to prevent them from drawing conclusions in a void or simply jumping to incorrect conclusions. He also recommends that companies need in-house media directors to help manage the interactions between the company's brands and their various agencies.

"No marketer can be expert in all areas of the business. In my experience, an agency is rarely ripping off their clients. However, they can often improve their processes, and in some cases, we can also learn from some of their best practices. I'm always happy to report to marketers the positive attributes of their agencies."

Bob adds, "In a new world of big data and social media, marketing is no longer just associated with brand promotion. It's also become a large part of a company's financial concerns."

Bob Siegal has been working with ANA marketers on a program entitled, Forget Recovery! Using Agency Compliance Review to Improve Marketing and Media Operations. He has developed a methodology for delivering collaborative, integrated and non-confrontational contract compliance review services that improve transparency while improving operational effectiveness and efficiency.

Prior to commencing his auditing and consulting work, Bob served as General Manager for a division of a studio, Vice President of Programming / Media for an international ad agency and Executive Director, Original Programming for two cable networks.