NAPLES, Florida: It was 'Play It Again Sam' time at last week's annual management conference of the American Association of Advertising Agencies, when Interpublic Group ceo Michael Roth took the stage to extol adland's currently fashionable mantra of 'accountability'.

It's a leitmotif that has regularly reared its head at ad industry talkfests ever since a long-dead direct marketing genius penned the immortal (and 100% accountable) headline: "They laughed when I sat at the piano, but when I started to play . . ."

Roth took up the theme with enthusiasm in his 35-minute presentation, seemingly unfazed at the experience of preaching to several hundred of the converted. Accountability, he stressed, is the means by which agencies demonstrate their value to clients.

Learning which types of marketing work, which don't, and why, Roth said, has become more complicated in an era of proliferating media channels and rapid changes in consumer behavior.

"These accountability tools and capabilities have to be invented throughout our industry," he continued.

"Because without it, the clients will be left in the dark, or someone else is going to do it. The ultimate test of a service model, which is what [agencies] are, is how do you prove your value in the marketplace?"

In his presentation coda, Roth quoted Charles Darwin. "It's not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent - but the one who is responsive to change."

Or as David Ogilvy put it three decades ago: "If it doesn't sell, it isn't creative."

Data sourced from AdWeek (USA); additional content by WARC staff