Bill Koenigsberg , CEO, president and founder of Horizon Media, says that Ken Auletta’s new book on the advertising industry doesn’t touch on the value that agencies bring to clients.
During a panel at the 4A’s Accelerate conference on Tuesday, Koenigsberg candidly interviewed the best-selling author and writer for The New Yorker about his anticipated book, "Frenemies: The Epic Disruption of the Ad Business (and Everything Else)."
"What annoyed me a little bit about the book is that everyone in this room thinks we bring value to clients, but you didn’t touch about the contribution in a big way that I feel like our industry makes," said Koenigsberg. "I don’t feel like the reader – at least me – came away from the book saying, ‘Look at the significant contributions that agencies are making to our economy and to moving clients’ businesses.'"
Koenigsberg did, however, say during the interview that he thinks Auletta did a "great job laying out a very complex ecosystem."
"The book will make you feel uncomfortable, but it’s a must-read," he added.
That complexity and friction is how Auletta came up with the name for the book.
PR agencies, consultancies, clients and even Facebook are both working with traditional agencies and encroaching on the ad space, which makes them all "frenemies," said Auletta.
He added that consumers are also a major threat to the industry because they don’t want to be interrupted by ads. "That’s a real existential threat, and a threat to media too," he said. "Without advertising dollars, there are no newspapers – many TV networks and magazines would perish,"
So, is there a dark cloud over the ad industry? "No question," according to Auletta.
Koenigsberg, however, said he thinks readers can look through the cloudiness to find some optimism in the book and see opportunities in the industry.
The book includes interviews with and insights about many big-name industry players, such a WPP CEO Martin Sorrell, Unilever CMO Keith Weed and MediaLink CEO and Chairman Michael Kassan, who is prominently mentioned.
Auletta said he chose to profile Kassan a lot in the pages because he was fascinated with how MediaLink works on behalf of both agencies and clients.
The only holding company CEO who refused to be part of the book is Omnicom Group Chief Executive John Wren, for reasons Auletta doesn’t know.
Auletta said he wishes he had a chapter that showed a real deep dive into an agency review, where he could have sat with a client and went through the entire process, but no marketers were up for it.